Savoy sets sail with the astounding ‘Anything Goes’

Beth Carr reviews the latest production from Savoy Opera Society.
Photo from rehearsals, credit: Harriet Kennerley

Jane Holloway Hall, as the old swimming pool, seems a fitting venue for the Savoy’s Autumn term production of Anything Goes, following the SS American’s voyage from America to Britain. As the oldest society on campus, Savoy Opera Society has been delivering fantastic shows for almost 50 years and this one was no exception. It was not an easy journey from bid to production but from the amount of smiling amongst the cast and crew, it is not hard to tell that they all love the show.

One of the strengths of the show was its inclusivity. The production team and cast included members from all years and from departments such as History, Geography and English as well as the usual Drama and Music departments. Some personnel were seasoned Savoy members, while others were making their acting debut at Royal Holloway, but there was no cast member who did not play their role to the full. Marcus Jones, playing the male romantic lead, deserves a particular mention in reflecting the charm and lovability of his character, so much so that each time he was paired with a female character I wanted him to end up happy with her (although the final outcome was greatly pleasing). His comedic pairing with Moonface Martin, played by Will Davidson, was a highlight of the show, and one that brought great hilarity at the show’s conclusion.

Looking at the entire production process, the crew did a fantastic job across the board, especially with their pun-filled launch nights. Entitled Anything Tangos, Anything Casinos and Anything Bingos, the three nights provided something for everyone and were cleverly linked to themes within the show. It is the first of these, dancing, that is most prominent, and Hayley Allen’s choreography made even the most inexperienced dancer look professionally trained.

The staging of the production was its only minor flaw, and much of this was down to the space available and the need to create as much space for the audience as possible, particularly with 2 sold-out nights. With the stage on the same level as the audience a few scenes led to craning my neck, particularly because a tall person was sat in my view of centre stage. As a musician I would have liked to have been able to see the orchestra, who were placed at the back of the room, but in fact this ended up as an asset for the production as some of the volume of the musicians was lost and allowed us to hear the cast’s vocals.

It is the vocals that shine throughout the whole production. Danielle Cavender, playing Reno Sweeney, projected her voice beautifully, both in her solos and singing amongst the ensemble, which is often a rare quality when productions nowadays commonly use microphones to amplify performers. There was no-one obviously weaker than any others and everyone sang with a smile. Considering I listened to the professional recording the next day and found myself wondering why the voices were different to those of Savoy shows the impact their renditions of songs such as ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’ and ‘De-lovely’ to the audience.

You cannot deny that each cast member, from the leads to the chorus, thoroughly enjoyed the production and were equally valued by the rest of the team. Katie Dale received a well-deserved ‘curtain call’ for her directorial debut, but she is quick to thank the incredible cast and fantastic crew for bringing Cole Porter’s musical to life. It is this shared passion that made the show so fabulous, and something which I am sure will be seen in future Savoy productions.