This year’s Christmas musical at the Crucible, Anything Goes, is a deliberate move from darkness to light for director Daniel Evans.
Daniel, who is Sheffield Theatres artistic director, said: I wanted to do something slightly different after we’d done Oliver! last year, which is slightly darker.
“This is something I wanted to do this Christmas as this is quite a challenging season at the theatre overall, with plays by Sarah Kane and Arthur Miller. I wanted something at Christmas for the family that was very, very uplifting.
“It’s a classic American musical comedy. They invented the form and this is really from the early part of the evolution of musicals. It’s got a very classic feel.
“It’s set on board a ship so there’s no escape for the cast of characters! In their own way they’re all kind of innocent and false. It’s a love story and a gangster getaway story.
“They’re all very recognisable and quirky characters and we see what happens when they all come together and are trapped on the ship.”
Daniel added: “It’s great and very funny and has an amazing score by Cole Porter at his absolute best. There’s a little bit of debate as to whether Anything Goes or Kiss Me Kate is his best score. He wrote the lyrics and music to this, so that’s really something, all coming from the same brain.”
Daniel said that the show debuted on Broadway almost exactly 80 years ago, on November 21, 1934.
“Like now, they were coming out of a Depression then and they were obsessed with celebrity culture.”
Daniel said that there were more newspaper column inches written at the time about a notorious murder involving Ruth Snyder and her lover Judd Grey killing her husband Albert than the sinking of the Titanic.
He said that was reflected in the show with the gangster characters Moonface and Bonnie making their getaway on board the ship and getting involved in the central love story of Billy and Hope.
Billy falls in love with Hope when they meet by accident in a taxi but she is on her way to London to marry an aristocrat to save her family’s struggling business. He stows away to try to win her heart.
Billy’s friend, evangelist turned nightclub singer Reno Sweeney, is also on board and is secretly in love with him.
Daniel said he is delighted to have the same team that made the 2012 hit Christmas musical My Fair Lady together again.
“We’ve got a brilliant cast. Debbie Kurup (Reno) and Matt Rawle (Billy) are proper West End leading ladies and men. When people hear them they’ll be amazed. I’m really looking forward to it.
“They’re are what’s called triple threats, equally good at singing, acting and dancing.”
There’s certainly plenty of hoofing to do with one of the tap routines lasting nine minutes. Daniel joked: “The cast are pleased because they’re all going to be thin!”
The show is using all the original choreography, overseen by Alistair, who also worked on Oliver! and My Fair Lady.
Without giving away any surprises, Daniel said that Richard Kent’s set is special and very unusual.
Anything Goes is at the Crucible from next Friday (November 28) to Saturday, January 17. Box office: at the venue, call 0114 249 6000 or go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk