Abu Dhabi Choral Group did it again with this year’s performance of the 1934 musical Anything Goes. Packed full of Cole Porter classics, the Anything Goes cast of 35 performing members not only belted out the old showtunes but they also busted out the tap shoes too. In the 6 years I have attended, I must say, ADCG definitely upped the entertainment factor this year with their incredible dance choreography and their flashy new focus on costume design. You really never know what you’re in for because ADCG has undeniably been the best little community theater group in the UAE for 41 years — and that is certainly something for Abu Dhabi to be proud of.
ADCG’s Ellen Abraham-Williams directed this year’s musical Anything Goes which is set aboard a 1930’s ocean liner enroute from New York to London and tells the story of a love triangle involving saucy nightclub singer Reno Sweeny (Audrey Brinkley), her pal Billy Cocker (Tyler Fordham), and his love interest, Hope Harcourt (Kathleen Baker). Reno is played by ADCG’s veteran star power, Audrey Brinkley and she personally couldn’t have picked a better suited musical for her talents. Although I know it takes a village to put on a musical of this caliber, I think ADCG would’ve had a difficult time finding anyone better suited for the role of Reno Sweeney. In the performance, the cruise liner guests are fixated on finding “stars” on board the ship and there’s no doubt which performer was the star aboard Anything Goes. Audrey Brinkley, along with the supporting talent of her backup Angels called Chastity, Purity, Virtue and Charity, stole the show.
As with every year, the ADCG is powered by both old and new faces to the performance. This year, the lead role of Billy was played by newcomer Tyler Fordham. It takes a lot of guts to take on a lead role of this magnitude so you certainly have to give Tyler a high five for his performance. He danced, he sang and I hope to see more of him in the coming years because community theater needs more guys like Tyler. Veteran ADCG performer Satawatt Sonsin played the role of the Captain and I was blown away by his tap dancing skills. Dancing is definitely his secret weapon and I wish ADCG would include his dance skills in other productions. The cheeky role of gangster Moonface Martin (Judi Olson), the drip fiancee Sir Evelyn Oakley (Charlie Harverson), along with the twitty Bavarian Fräulein twins Olga (Sarah Lloyd) and Helga (Rachelle Smith) added an entertaining little slapstick to the show.
The role of Erma the mobster girlfriend was played by returning ADCG celeb Shera-Lea Saunders who played a brilliant Gomez in the 2016 performance of The Addam’s Family and certainly let her starpower shine in the brazen and sassy role of Erma. I am also told the spectacularly obvious upgrade in costuming this year was due to the commitment of Shera-Lea Saunders and Judi Olson. Their attention to detail definitely defined the musical period they were representing while clearly embracing the spirit and fire of the characters Erma and Reno while staying true to the theme of the show.
The heart and soul of ADCG is not only those mentioned in this review but so many in the community who contribute their time, talents, and energies. Another standing ovation goes to the musical talents of the 10-piece band pulled together from the Abu Dhabi community because without them there would not have been such a grand performance. A musical of this scale takes a small army to produce and ADCG somehow manages to pull it all together beautifully year after 41 years!
Appropriate for the entire family, catch Anything Goes for their last two performances this Thursday May 10th and Friday May 11th at 7:00PM at the historic Abu Dhabi Folklore Theater behind Al Wahda Mall (see link for map). Tickets can be purchased online for Dh110 at Platinum List.
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