Stars of Anything Goes bringing happiness to stage of Palace Theatre

Bonnie Langford in Anything Goes
Bonnie Langford in Anything Goes

IT is interesting to get Bonnie Langford and Simon Callow’s take on the musical Anything Goes which is currently wowing audiences at Manchester’s Palace Theatre before it makes a return to London for the summer.

After all they have more than a little experience of ‘putting on a show’. So when both of them enthuse about being part of Anything Goes, that’s a fair recommendation.

“It’s a brilliantly put together show,” said Simon. “It’s cumulatively delightful and joyful which is what we want at the moment from the theatre.”

His co-star agrees.

“We really need that tonic and that uplift,” said Bonnie. “The show is very slick but it also has a spontaneity about it. We are all in a room together experiencing it on top of the wonderful live music; there are so many people on stage, there are tap dancing sailors on a ship, we’ve got seagulls that don’t eat your ice cream - it’s perfect. What else could you want?”

Anything Goes was written in 1934 by Cole Porter at the end of the Great Depression, an irony that’s not lost on the stars of the 2022 production.

“The songs are so fresh and so applicable, it’s perfect timing to have it back,” said Bonnie.

“It was originally staged at a moment in history when people were much freer and felt unconstrained after coming out of the misery of the depression,” said Simon. “It was suddenly ‘come on, we’re going to live again‘ that was the feeling and I think that’s very relevant to where we are today particularly post Covid lockdowns.

“It’s also a very sophisticated show, that’s to say it’s witty and it makes the audience witty; they start to listen in a different kind of way. That’s also quite rare in our theatre these days. The sort of verbal brilliance of Cole Porter has never been matched; those songs are as witty and as brilliant as the moment they were written in 1934 so that’s really saying something.”

Anything Goes is based around a stowaway on an Ocean liner from New York bound for London. There are stories of unrequited love, a failed gangster on the run and a sultry nightclub singer in a joyously chaotic plot with which the cast appear to having just as much fun as the audience.

Simon, a veteran of stage and film and an Olivier award winning director in his own right, plays Elish J Whitney a Wall Street businessman. Bonnie, who has performed in musicals in the West End and Broadway for many years including in Cats, Chicago, Guys and Dolls and 42nd Street, is Evangeline Harcourt, taking the trip to escort her daughter to meet her future husband..

The cast also includes Denis Lawson and Kerry Ellis.

“It is a healing show,” said Bonnie. “It has all those qualities that we need right now.

“It gives us permission to laugh, permission to cry, permission to fall in love and permission to tap dance and sing along if you wan, although it would probably be best not to do that in the aisles, but at least you can go away dancing in your heart.”

“It’s infectious,” said Simon, quickly adding “in a good way”.

“It’s built on rhythm, that pulse never lets up at any point and the audience really gets caught up in that energy and sense of exhilaration.

“It is Broadway at its absolute supreme best with its limitless energy, huge skill, fantastic good humour about it which is quite rare in theatre nowadays. It’s a tonic and huge fun to do because it works so well.”

Bonnie added: “I think the thing about it is that it has hope and as with many musicals it gives you a happy ending; you know you are going to leave the theatre feeling utterly uplifted.”

Anything Goes is returning to Manchester after a sold out run last year.

“The fact the show has come back so son shows what demand there is for it,” said Bonnie, “so they have brought it back with a few new faces.”

“A new old face in my case,” laughed Simon.

Anything Goes is at the Palace Theatre, Manchester until Saturday, Details from