“Is there a parade in town?” Anyone Can Whistle redeems itself in new revival at Southwark Playhouse
Updated: Apr 22
FANS of theatre far and wide will know many of Sondheim’s works, but when asked about Anyone Can Whistle, their mind may draw a blank. The forgotten flop from the esteemed composer and lyricist only lasted 9 performances when it originated, but I believe this production will last much longer.
The mad show tells a story of a dying town whose corrupt and attention-obsessed mayor creates a fake miracle in order to bring in tourists. Instead, it draws the attention of an emotionally inhibited nurse, a crowd of inmates from a local asylum and a doctor who holds secrets of his own.
ANYONE CAN WHISTLE 9; Nathan Taylor, Shane Convery, Kathryn Akin, Hana Ichijo, Teddy Hinde, Alex Young, Samuel Clifford, Marisha Morgan, Jensen Tudtud
Photo: Danny With a Camera
The show seems to get better with age, with many of its themes of originality, corrupt governments and pure chaos working perfectly with the modern world. This revival adds life to the production, dressing the characters up in bright colours and including an inclusive cast of all kinds of people. The casting is reason enough to come to see the show as it is so refreshing to see a cast that is so diverse. Other shows should definitely take note and implement this into their future casting.
The cast are truly the stars of the show. Alex Young is a true standout as Cora Hoover Hooper, providing her amazing vocals and being an absolute comedic genius. You fall in love with her misguided character from the start and do not stop laughing throughout the performance. She even managed to almost make herself break character at one point. Jordan Broatch is another standout for me, as J.Bowden Hapgood. They are beautifully chaotic, especially in the first act, and portray their character complexities and mysteries perfectly. Your eyes are drawn to them in most scenes as they hold such a bizarre stage presence.
The show’s story is particularly where its downfall may lie. The pacing of scenes feels uneven, with the beginning of the show passing through plotlines too quickly, leaving the audience completely confused and lost at points, whereas certain scenes feel too long and unnecessary. The best scene is certainly the big act 1 scene where J.Bowden Hapgood enters and turns the town upside down. It is perfectly choreographed and performed to make you feel mad. I will admit my brain hurt in the best way, I felt like I was losing my sanity as well.
All in all, where the story may lack, the comedy of the show is truly special. It is certainly a good night, whether you understand what you're watching or not.
Anyone Can Whistle is running at Southwark Playhouse until 7th May.
You can buy tickets at: https://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk/