It’s still an incandescent revival, though the new leads aren’t quite as fit.

Kerry Ellis (centre) is the new frontman for Anything Goes at the Barbican – Marc Brenner

Apparently, the original studio pitch for the Top Gun movie was simply: “Fighter plane; Tom Cruise”. There probably isn’t an equivalent setting for musicals, but if there were, one can imagine the tone of Anything Goes as: “Ocean liner; Cole Porter”.

Because that sums up, no more and no less, this vintage Depression-era champagne-laced musical about brilliantly handsome young men and the bizarre fugitive gangster on a transatlantic cruise accompanied by Porter’s irrepressibly joyous score. Sail once more to lift our achingly beleaguered souls in the recast form of Kathleen Marshall’s rousing revival, first seen by British audiences at the Barbican in 2021.

That production, which won Tonys at its 2011 premiere, was blessed with an absolutely explosive performance from its original Broadway star, Sutton Foster, as Reno Sweeney: the evangelist-turned-celebrity dancer nurturing unrequited love for the cocky young clerk. Billy Crocker, in turn in love with unhappily engaged debutante Hope Harcourt (that’s about it in terms of plot). Foster blasted his way into our hearts on a wave of astonishing skill and effervescent charm.

Kerry Ellis has the daunting task of filling her sinfully talented shoes and it’s not her fault she falls a little short; almost anyone would. Yet Ellis remains a beguiling presence: a sassy, ​​teasing temptress who finds nostalgic subtext in the opening number I Get A Kick Out of You, taking cast and audience to musical theater heaven in the spectacular dance of tap dance Anything Goes, and that he understands that his job as Reno is essentially to steal, with a wink and a nod, every scene he’s in.

Simon Callow in Anything Goes at the Barbican - Marc Brenner

Simon Callow in Anything Goes at the Barbican – Marc Brenner

He wasn’t as sold on Denis Lawson as Moonface Martin, the crim on the lam masquerading as a priest, and the role vacated by Robert Lindsay. The character demands easy, flowing vaudeville; Lawson’s wisecracking, self-satisfied approach sometimes struggles for effect.

But Simon Callow is pure delight as Elisha Whitney, a booze-addled Yale man clutching his teddy bear as he staggers across the decks in search of Bonnie Langford’s shrill socialite widow, while Haydn Oakley reprises melodiously his role as Hope’s fiancé, the English Lord Lord. Evelyn Oakleigh, whose idea of ​​loungewear is breeches and a knitted vest.

It’s become a truism to say that the book (originally by PG Wodehouse and Guy Bolton, updated for later productions, but essentially still two intertwined romances, plus the odd weird case of mistaken identity) is effectively irrelevant.

That’s not to say it’s without impact: Amid the ridiculous absurdity and sexy irreverence (dogs worn as mustaches; lifeboat threesomes) and wholly spontaneous eruptions of top-notch dance and song, there are flashes of yearning and tenderness. genuine. I particularly enjoyed the moment when Evelyn ruefully informs Reno before dancing with her during the dubiously titled The Gypsy in Me that Oakleighs don’t tend to do things like break engagements.

But let’s be honest: almost everything here is in the service of the main effect. And under the confident direction of Marshall, who melds expert choreography with weightless, heady romance in ways that emulate the frothy precision of Porter’s score to utter perfection, what an irresistible, incandescent effect that is.

Until Sep 3 Tickets: 020 7870 2500;

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