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Christmas Mysteries: A Sherlock Carol @MaryleboneTHLDN

A mash-up of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes would seem an unlikely pairing. Yet it provides a surprisingly fun Christmas-themed adventure. These two Victorian tales (albeit separated by about 40 years) provide the basis for an inspired adventure at Christmastime that just also happens to turn out to be a murder mystery as well. With lavish costumes, a few spooky set pieces and some good old-fashioned stage trickery with lights and a lot of smoke machines, it is hard to resist. It returns to the Marylebone Theatre for Christmas after a run there last year.  The premise is that after Holmes sees off the criminal mastermind Professor Moriarty, he is left adrift in London. People thought he was dead, and he might as well be. Disinterested in the misdeeds of other Londoners, Holmes has even given up on his friend Dr Watson. It's almost as if he has become a Scrooge. Or half a Scrooge, moping about shouting, "bah" in respon

Sassy and sexy: Anything Goes @NewWimbTheatre and everywhere @AnythingGoesUK_

Going on a cruise seems like an awful lot of fun if this high spirited production of Anything Goes is anything to go by.

The cast sing and dance their hearts out in Cole Porter's classic musical. There is so much to take in with the fast footed choreography, wonderful performances and imaginative staging.
Leading the cast is Debbie Kurup as Reno Sweeney. It is hard not to be a member of her fan club after seeing her in this show. The character of Reno is a pretty sassy kind of broad being a nightclub singer, but here Kurup gives her a full characterisation. She has a terrific voice, a wonderful sense of comic timing and just a little bit of vulnerability. She leads an ensemble of terrific dancers and the two main dance numbers Anything Goes and Blow Gabriel Blow are nothing short of spectacular. Not to mention incredible feats of endurance.

There are so many strong performances in this production that every song and every scene seems to be a winner. Hugh Sach's as the b-list gangster Moonface shows that he doesn't just have comic timing but can also sing a great tune (albeit hilariously). Stephen Matthews as the uptight Lord Evelyn Oakley stops the show with his comic gypsy turn in the second half, performing in socks with suspenders. Alex Young as the flirtatious Erma also gives a nuanced, sweet but slightly naughty fresh take on Buddie Beware, which usually tends to be performed much more broadly. And Matt Rawle is always lovely as the song and dance man Billy.

As for the story, well when when Billy Crocker discovers that his heart’s desire, debutante heiress Hope Harcourt is engaged to an English aristocrat, he stows away aboard the S.S. American to win her back. That's all you really need to know. Throw in a few eccentric passengers on board the luxurious transatlantic liner, a few hot sailors and some sexy ladies you have the start of a great musical.

But the creative team and performances have lifted this show to another level. Directed by Daniel Evans, with choreography by Alistair David and musical arrangements by Nigel Lilley, this show is only in Wimbledon for another week but embarks on a lengthy tour this year and is one not to miss when it stops in town. You'll be tempted to stow away with them too.


A very excited post show reaction with @johnnyfoxlondon follows...

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