Often when reviewing youth productions, I find myself feeling the need to be kind to the young performers. This is not the case with MYCO’s production of Anything Goes – they are good enough to be judged alongside far more experienced singers and dancers. In many ways, this was one of the better amateur productions I have ever seen.
Guy Brigg (Director/Choreographer) and Julie Todd (MD) are to be heartily congratulated for having coached and trained their cast to such a high standard. The singing, acting and dancing are of a quality to rival any adult company – with no weak links amongst the principals or supporting roles.
Unlike some youth companies, MYCO performed the full version of the piece – which places considerable demands on the young principals. Vocally, the stars of the production are the brassy and bold Reno Sweeney of Kelly Hampson and the lyrical Billy Crocker of Henry Jenkinson. Hampson in particular delivers her iconic songs with a power and control far beyond her years. Both, I am sure, will be appearing on bigger and better stages in the coming years.
I have to admit that one of the cast does steal the show completely from the rest of the company – and he is to be applauded for doing so. Daniel Richards (Lord Evelyn) has a natural flair for comedy – both physical and verbal. His is a star turn and one loved by the audience.
There has to be a special mention for the band who clearly love playing Porter’s wonderful music. There is a real spark from them (though, I must admit, the overture was perhaps a tad overlong for my taste.)
Yes, there are a few technical niggles that are inevitable for an opening night performance but I am sure they will be ironed out as the week progresses.
Overall, this is a fresh look at a great classic musical and one that does enormous credit to the company. With young performers such as these, the future of the musical in Oxfordshire is surely secure for the years ahead.
Simon Tavener – whatsonstage.com, 12th April 2012
“All ashore that’s goin’ ashore”, cries the Purser. Those were the days — now it’s all photo identification and swipe cards. It’s unthinkable that people might just swan on and off a ship prior to departure. On the other hand, perhaps modern security is a good thing: in the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes, several of the passengers on the SS America are distinctly dodgy.
As the centenary of the Titanic disaster is duly marked, Musical Youth Company of Oxford has adroitly chosen Anything Goes as this year’s production — complete with mention of icebergs. The show’s storyline was originally to have featured a shipwreck on a trans-Atlantic voyage, but a major shipboard fire just before the premiere rendered that idea tasteless. So instead of a maritime disaster, scriptwriters Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse concentrated on a zany comedy, and MYCO director Guy Brigg highlights that aspect of the show very successfully.
With numbers like You’re the Top, I Get a Kick Out of You and The Gypsy in Me (affectingly sung here by India Shaw-Smith), Cole Porter’s score is a classic, and MYCO serves it very well.
Musical director Julie Todd and her first-rate pit band have a real feel for the music, and if any cast members feel that the score is a bit uncool, there was absolutely no sign of it. Brigg has added his own new choreography: always inventive, often challenging, this is also performed with aplomb and evident enthusiasm. The tap-dance title-song company number at the end of Act I is a real show-stopper, and there’s a particularly hilarious send-up of a solemn courtship dance.
Anything Goes not only provides abundant chorus work, it’s also awash with opportunities for soloists. The prominent role of nightclub singer Reno goes to Kelly Hampson. Her strongly sung Reno never misses an opportunity to show every available inch of thigh. Meanwhile, Daniel Richards mixes pathos with humour to great effect as the shambling Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, as does Henry Jenkinson playing love-struck Billy Crocker. George Watkins has a whale of a time as second-rate gangster Moonface Martin, as do Ellie Coote, Mollie Fowler, Becca Jones, and Lyla Schillinger as Reno’s toga-clad back-up singers. In command, James Roberts’s Captain is very good at oiling up to the passengers — no sign of a lifeboat drill, however. I saw the dress rehearsal, and it was already obvious that this excellent production was being brought to the boil at just the right moment. Go and see it.
Giles Woodforde – Oxford Times, 12th April 2012