Chesterfield Operatic Society pushes the boat out

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Chesterfield Operatic Society are taking to the ocean blue aboard SS American in Cole Porter’s Anything Goes at the Pomegranate Theatre (November 22 to 26).

Aboard the ocean liner, nightclub singer/evangelist Reno Sweeney is en route from New York to England while her pal, Billy Crocker, has stowed away to be near his love, Hope Harcourt. The problem is Hope is engaged to the wealthy Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.

Joining this love triangle on board the luxury liner are public enemy Moonface Martin and his sidekick-in- crime Bonnie. With the help of some elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors and good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Moonface join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s

heart.

For director Geoff Whitfield it is a welcome return to the society of which he has fond memories. “I enjoyed working with Chesterfield previously so I jumped at the chance to come back,” he said.

“It’s been like coming home. They’ ve worked really hard for me and I’ve really enjoyed my time back”

He added: “This is an all-singing, all-dancing show just like the old Hollywood musicals which were very popular. The greatest challenges of the show are down to the choreographer. There are some very big tap dancing routines and some big production numbers. My particular favourite is Blow Gabriel - a great number that I have used in many cabaret shows and enjoy setting the movement to. From a dancing point of view it is a very big challenge for a good tap choreographer.”

Anything Goes is completely different to the society’s spring production, Jesus Christ Superstar,according to society chairman Sarah Morrell, who plays Reno Sweeney.

She added: "It’s got a bit of glamour and amusing dialogue, unlike a few of our recent sung-through shows. We have some fabulous pairings which play to the strengths of the society and a great amount of chorus work as well.

“Spectacular tap routines should appeal to our audiences. Choreographer Julie Metcalfe has done brilliantly with the tap routines. The chorus barely stop moving and Geoff has made sure thatwhenever they are on they are involved in lots of movement, set by himself.”

In addition to some familiar faces the show features a number of new members from the 14 who successfully auditioned to join the society before this show. “They’re really enthusiastic about the show,” added Sarah.

For Robert Spencer, playing Billy is a return to the part he first played at Derby Assembly Rooms with Derby Opera Company in 2003.

“I love Billy because he is constantly trying to evade the authorities on board the SS American as he doesn’t have a ticket,” said Robert. “He is a friend of Reno Sweeney who is the mainprotagonist of the story. It’s a sort of love triangle as he is in love with a girl called Hope who hasmet this English guy. Evelyn and Hope are supposed to be getting married but she is in love with Billy, who ultimately ends up in the brig as he doesn’t have a ticket.

“I get to play lots of different characters within the one part, using Spanish, English, Scottish and Chinese accents. The challenge is remembering where the story is going, what Billy is all about and what he is trying to achieve.”

For musical director Jonathan Davies, Anything Goes “is one of the most colourful scores in the musical theatre canon.”

He added: “With song after song of foot-tapping, smile-inducing, catchy melodies, you can be sure to leave the theatre with a smile on your face.

“Paired up with the kind of choreography you’d expect from an old MGM musical and PG Woodhouse’s hilarious plot, this Cole Porter classic is a real winner.2

The full cast list is: Witney, Elisha J - Danny Winson, Steward - Christopher Blackshaw, Reporter - Joanne Smith, Cameraman - Matthew Day, Sir Evelyn Oakleigh - Daniel Wheeldon, Mrs Harcourt - Yvonne Taylor, Hope Harcourt - Alison Doram, Bishop (Henry T. Dobson) - Neil Yewman, Reno Sweeney - Sarah Morrell, Billy Crocker - Robert Spencer, Moonface Martin - Karl Brennan, Ching - Kelly Wallhead, Ling - Nic Crossley, Purser - David Orange, Bonnie - Sue Higgins, Captain - Simon Lewington, Angels - Georgii Bailey, Gemma Nolan, Natalie Sharratt, Mhairi Herring, Lucy Telfer and Sally Roberts.

Anything Goes is at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield, from Tuesday, November 22 to Saturday, November 26, at 7.15pm with a Saturday matinee at 2.15pm.

Tickets range from £12.50 to £16.50 and are available from the Tourist Information Centre, www.chesterfieldtheatres.co.uk or by calling 01246 345222.