What is there left to say about this show that hasn’t already been said? Daniel Evans’ Sheffield Theatres Christmas production has been gathering five star reviews wherever it goes since the tour started in January of this year, and thoroughly deserves them. It is, to coin a phrase, absolutely fabulous.
With a score by Cole Porter and a book based on a PG Woodhouse story it is hard to fail. But the energy, creativity and sheer professionalism that has gone into this show leaves you reeling. Every single cast member from swing dancers to leads does a cracking job. The tap number at the end of the first half which must last about eight minutes is quite superb.
Debbie Kurup has the plum role of Reno and she squeezes every drop of pizazz from it. Matt Rawle is the perfect foil as Billy Crocker. Nice to see Simon Rouse treading the boards after all those years as a hard-bitten detective in The Bill. He proves to have good comic timing and neat feet. Hugh Sacs as Moonface Martin reminded me of Stubby Kaye - I can’t think of higher praise than that. But the real scene stealer of the night was Stephen Matthews playing the archetypal English aristo (at least as it appeared to Cole Porter) Lord Evelyn Oakley. He manages to invest this buffoon with just a hint of pathos and vulnerability. His number the Gypsy in Me brought the house down.
Tight musical direction by Tom Brady and punchy brass playing in the pit give the cast good support. The choreography of Alistair David is sublime and includes some of the best tap routines we have seen on the musical stage in this country for years.