Z-Arts Renaker Theatre hosted Manchester Musical Youth’s (MMY) latest summer production of ‘Anything Goes’. With a cast of over forty young performers, I was intrigued to see how Principle and Musical Director Kimberley Holden would pull this musical off with its huge repertoire of songs, monumental tap numbers, including the sensational choreography that we have come to expect from this classic Cole Porter’s masterpiece.
The set is that of the ocean liner S. S. American, where nightclub singer Reno Sweeney (Hanna Cunningham) is on route from New York to England. Reno’s love interest and friend Billy Crocker (Oliver Horton) has stowed away to be his true love Hope Harcourt (Amelia Ruffley), the problem being that his true love is betrothed to be married to a wealthy English Lord – Evelyn Oakleigh (Joseph Dowling) to save her mother Evengeline Harcourt (Ellie Di Sora) from poverty. Amongst the love triangle onboard is Public Enemy number 13 Moonface Martin (Freddie Cummins) and his partner in crime the sexy man-eating Erma (Amelie Hassouna-Smith). The plot is based on Reno and Moonface Martin joining forces to help their pal Billy in the quest to win Hope’s heart and stop their marriage of benefit.
MMY never seizes to astound me on how they manage season after season to produce the most polished and professional performances. They seem to have the magic formula for shaping the students of the musical youth to a standard that would be worthy of any West End stage! It is inconceivable the amount of talent that was on the stage tonight and even more astonishing that they were all under the age of 18 years old!
The ethos of MMY is to nurture and inspire creativity, and they have helped hundreds of talented youngsters grow, develop, and to go onto pursuing careers in musical theatre. What Kimberley and David Holden do is nothing more than magical, huge credit to Sarah Binns and Sarah Bartlett-Hunt for their choreography as it is no easy task getting a large cast to be intime and look impeccably faultless as they did tonight.
It is clear that each and every member of the cast have put their hearts and souls into the show, and they all looked like they were living the dream during the performance. The ensemble created the perfect support for the lead roles with their outstanding delivery of the song lyrics and dance movements.
I have watched ‘Anything Goes’ on many platforms both professional and amateur and I can honestly say with over 40 years of theatre going that Hanna Cunningham matched any leading lady I have ever seen! Hanna’s delivery of Reno was flawless – she looked beautifully elegant, her voice was pitch perfect and her rendition of ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ was formidable, her dance and tap was equally magnificent. Oliver Horton portrayed Billy Crocker and matched Reno as the leading man exquisitely, this young man impressively displayed his talent both vocally and in his acting skills and I am sure he will go far in theatreland. I was particularly impressed with his vocal tone and style during ‘All Through the Night’ – he is definitely one to watch out for.
I would love to name and praise every leading cast member as they were all exceptional in their first-class delivery of their roles. Their professionalism was tremendous, and I was totally blown away with each individuals’ presentation on stage.
However, I feel I must commend Freddie Cummins on his execution of Moonface Martin as he injected a phenomenal amount of radiance into his gangster role, and Amelie Hassouna-Smith who put the sass into sassy, she was super sexy, humorous and utterly owned the stage with her presence. Amelie’s rendition of ‘Buddie Beware’ had me completely captivated with her spellbinding and seductive interpretation as Erma.
A massive well done to all involved and yet again another triumph for this incredible MMY theatre group, both myself and my 15-year-old co-reviewer left feeling uplifted and rejuvenated!
You’d be crazy to miss out on the opportunity to watch the actors and actresses of the future West End stars! So, grab a ticket and I promise you won’t be disappointed, the show runs until Saturday the 15th of July 2023. https://www.z-arts.org/events/anything-goes/
Reviewer: Katie Leicester
Reviewed: 12th July 2023
North West End UK Rating: