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Opera Australia has announced the cast for its upcoming production of Cole Porter’s 1930s, feel-good, maritime romp Anything Goes. The casting for the multi-award winning revival, which will tour across Australia in 2015, has some real treats for Australian musical theatre fans, as well as one less convincing choice. OA Artistic Director Lyndon Terracini and Producer John Frost have assembled a wonderful quartet for the four principal roles, combining seasoned fan favourites with some exciting up-and-comers, and an well-credentialed supporting cast (with one notable exception, but we’ll get to that!)
The standout jewel-in-the-crown of the production is without a doubt Caroline O’Connor, whose comic flair and vocal flexibility seem made for the role of Reno Sweeny, an evangelist turned nightclub owner. This is a role O’Connor has already played to critical acclaim over-seas, so it’s a credit to Opera Australia for pouncing on this opportunity to bring her portrayal of Reno to an Australian audience. A firm favourite with musical theatre fans all over the world, O’Connor’s performances on stage and screen (she is perhaps most widely known for appearing alongside Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge) have earned her a raft of accolades including a Helpmann Award, three Australian Theatre Awards and a Tony Award nomination, so her performance will be one of the must-see appearances on stage next year.
Staring opposite O’Connor is another big-ticket draw: Dancing with the Stars judge Todd McKenney. Currently playing the role of Teen Angel in John Frost's hit-production of Grease, McKenney’s charisma will no doubt be the perfect foil for O’Connor’s stage presence, although it is perhaps a bit disappointing that such an accomplished dancer won’t have many opportunities to show off his moves in the role of wealthy, English fop, Lord Evelyn Oakleigh.
The romantic leads are taken by Alex Rathgeber and Claire Lyon in the roles of Billy Crocker and Hope Harcourt. Both home grown talents have a number of acclaimed performances under their belts: Lyon notably is currently playing the lead role of Christine in the world tour of Phantom of the Opera and Rathgeber has an impressive résumé of international appearances, so this will hopefully translate to some exciting on-stage chemistry.
The casting of Wayne Scott Kermond will be music to the ears of musical theatre aficionados. Taking on the role of second-rate villain (described as “public enemy number 13”), gangster Moonface Martin. His impeccable pedigree (the Kermond dynasty are pretty much musical theatre royalty) plus his recent critically acclaimed turns in Singin’ in the Rain and Guys and Dolls make him an ideal choice for this classic, Broadway production. Debora Krizak takes on the role of Moonface’s floozy girlfriend, Erma, and making her musical theatre debut in the role of Evangeline Harcourt is one of Australia’s most recognisable actresses, Carmen Duncan.
Alan Jones as Roosevelt in Annie
The one fly in the ointment of this casting announcement is Alan Jones in the role of Captain of the SS America. Perhaps we’re being overly cynical jumping to the conclusion that casting a deeply divisive, conservative shock-jock is a pretty conspicuous gambit to stir up publicity for the show. However with the amounts of talent on display from the rest of the cast, it’s hard to believe that Jones was the best appointment available, especially considering his shamelessly insincere and critically panned turn as Franklin D Roosevelt in Sydney’s 2012 production of Annie.
Opera Australia’s production of Anything Goes will tour Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney from the 31 May 2015. For full details and ticketing please visit www.opera.org.au