Choreographer: Grace Warner
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels
A brand-new musical from the Olivier-award winning team of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe, Anything Can Happen! is well suited to a springtime premiere. Appropriately, this is an all-youth production by the postgraduate students of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama – alma mater of Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins to mention but a couple of illustrious past students. This alone makes for the anticipation of a good evening, with the added frisson of knowing that it is more than likely that at least some of the young performers are the stars of tomorrow.
With its themes of growing up, with all its aspirations, hopes and dream, relationships and the ups and downs of life, the range of this musical theatre compilation is ambitious. Well known songs from musicals such as Honk!, Peter Pan – A Musical Adventure, Betty Blue Eyes and Soho Cinders are here plus other songs that “got away” and additional material written for the Cameron Mackintosh/Disney production of Mary Poppins. With such a variety, which could almost be described as a hotchpotch, it would hardly be surprising if the show appeared disjointed at times. The wonder is that is doesn’t – or, at least, only occasionally.
While the storyline is flimsy, this musical revue is well structured and enchanting, with a chronological thread running through from the angst of teenage years, first love in varying forms, and the agony of rejection, followed by parenthood and youthful maturity. Gender issues are not sidestepped but portrayed with an admirable delicacy by the full company in It’s Hard to Tell from Soho Cinders, while the message of acceptance of difference, be it racial, physical or whatever, comes over loud and clear in two delightful numbers from Honk! Different sung with feeling by Corey Jones, and Warts and All.
Director Simon Grieff’s ability to draw the most from his young performers is evident throughout, aided and abetted by choreographer Grace Warner – the latter in particular for Pick Up Your Hooves from Just So, energetically performed by Hannah Roper and Adena Cahill, with Ellie Pawsey and Rosie Archer, and the streetwise exuberance of Big, Middle & Baby (Three Billy Goat Gruff ), with great character portrayals here by the male threesome of Jones, Gape and Jordan Scott-Turner.
A change of mood in the second half, with Every Tear A Mother Cries, beautifully rendered by Rosie Archer, bringing an unexpected lump to the throat, as does Ross Hoey’s Just Beyond the Stars from Peter Pan. Two full-on numbers by the entire company: Anything Can Happen from Mary Poppins and Does The Moment Ever Come? (Just So) bring the show to a close.
There are caveats – a tendency to shrillness among some of the female singers is something that needs addressing – but there is much talent here in the young cast at the start of their career in showbiz, as there is in the musicians: a seven-piece band under the direction of Joe Hood at the keyboards.
Runs until 24 March 2016 | Image: Kirsten McTernan