30 January 2015

Anything Goes at the New Wimbledon Theatre was such fun

Two of my nearest theatres, in Richmond and Wimbledon, are part of the Ambassador Theatre Group which is bad news on two fronts, their publicity is awful so it is hard to find out when good shows are on and secondly their website is truly awful so it is hard to buy tickets when you do find something good. In this case I would have missed Anything Goes but for a promotion via another organisation that does know how to do publicity.

The attractions to me of Anything Goes was that it was another mainstream musical that I had not seen, it was by Cole Porter and the offer price was good! I am far more likely to take a punt on an unknown work if it costs me £25 or less, which is one reason that I go to off West End theatres so much.

This time I paid £20 which secured me seat F30 in the stalls. It was almost at the edge of the row but the view was perfectly fine, as the photo below shows.

I chose to work at home that day and decided to eat before the show somewhere in Wimbledon. I knew that there were plenty of restaurants near the theatre but I had eaten there too rarely to prefer, or even remember, any of them. I was lucky to find Mai Thai which was tasty, smart and inexpensive. It is now officially my favourite restaurant in Wimbledon.

I had some time to kill before the show so I went to the The Wibbas Down Inn opposite the theatre first. It is a Wetherspoons so I knew the choice of beer would be excellent and I had no difficulty in ordering a pint of something that I had never heard of before. That was certainly a much better plan than going to the theatre bar and paying over the odds for a small bottle of bland lager.

Fed and watered I took my seat ready to be entertained.

Musically the show got off to a great start as the first song after the overture was "I Get a Kick Out of You", which I first heard and loved in a version by Gary Shearston in 1974.

It soon became clear that the story was a romcom with several people involved. The number of people involved and the other complications thrown into the mix (such as unsold shares, a gangster on the run and a missing dog) made for an interesting story that easily kept my attention.

There was only one other song that I recognised, the titular Anything Goes, but the music was good throughout. Somebody else thought that Kick and Anything were the two best songs as they were both repeated later in the show, and I was perfectly happy with that.

The story and songs could have been a relatively slight meal if not for the slick production and performances. Everything about the show was nicely done from the little characterisations to the set. It was clearly a well-practised show that also managed to feel fresh and sparkly.

And it was a bonus to see Hugh Sachs as the gangster. He is, of course, famous for his role as Gavin in several series of Benidorm. He's the fourth Benidorm actor that I've seen on stage so there is still a long way to go!

Anything Goes was everything I needed at the end of a busy week. It was jolly, frothy and happy. Just the sort of things a populist musical should be.

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