Award-winning musical 'Anything Goes' sails into the North West

Video report by Entertainment Correspondent Caroline Whitemore

The film 'Anything Goes' first hit the big screen back in 1936 when Bing Crosby starred as Billy Crocker.

Now more than 50 years later, the stage musical is heading to the Liverpool Empire on 20 April, and the Palace Theatre in Manchester on 9 June, starring veteran actors Denis Lawson, Simon Callow, Bonnie Langford and musical theatre extraordinaire Kerry Ellis.  

Kerry Ellis stars in stage version of 'Anything Goes', which heads to Manchester's Palace Theatre

Kerry Ellis made her West End debut more than 20 years ago in My Fair Lady- now she's excited for this brand new show. 

"I'm very excited," she says.

"I mean to bring the show that everyone got so excited about last year and it made such a mark at the Barbican to bring it back and to be able to tour it and to bring it to people's hometowns is wonderful" 

Scottish actor Denis Lawson says: "We're in the middle of rehearsals at the moment, it's a really funny musical and the company numbers are extraordinary. It's just a blast. You know, we're having such a good time with it"

Denis Lawson says the cast are having a "blast"

The story of a love triangle takes place on board an ocean liner back in 1931, setting sail between New York and London. 

What is Anything Goes about?

Anything Goes tells the tale of stowaway Billy Crocker and his desperate pursuit of Hope Harcourt, the beautiful debutante fiancee of English Aristocrat Lord Oakleigh.

But, the road to love is never simple, as we are introduced to raunchy ex-evangelist turned nightclub singer, Reno Sweeney, who herself holds a torch for Billy, and gangster team Moonface Martin and his sidekick Erma, who are trying to make a getaway.

"It's essentially almost like a farce. It's very, very funny and very eccentric" explains Denis.

With songs like ' I get a kick out of you' and the title track 'Anything Goes', it's a musical sensation. 

Actor Simon Callow told me why he loves Manchester so much.

"I've done so much work here," he says. "My very first show, a West End show which came into London, was at the Opera House and I was there at the Palace Theatre that one of the nights that Ken Dodd saved it.

"You know, it was phenomenal. It was incredible" 

"Did he go on until 3:00 in the morning?" questions Bonnie.

"He certainly did. That was what was so wonderful about" laughs Simon. 

"Bonnie Langford first came to our attention when she was just 6-years-old winning Opportunity Knocks, she's always been known for her singing and dancing- but during this show she doesn't do any of that!"

"I'm playing the character part" Bonnie explains. "I'm playing Mrs. Evangeline Harcourt. And yes, she's very funny and she's quite mad.

"And she ends up with Simon's character. That's a spoiler right there!" 

Simon Callow

Simon is, of course, well known for playing many roles but possibly his most famous is that of Gareth in the 90's rom com hit 'Four weddings and a Funeral' written by Richard Curtis.

He says: "People tell me so often that when they get depressed, they just put on that film and it makes them feel really wonderful.

"It's very, very heartwarming. But it's also got a very serious thing at the centre of it, namely my funeral."

The cast of the new stage musical Anything Goes

Another veteran actor starring in the musical is Denis Lawson who plays Moonface Martin. 

He's starred in television programmes New Tricks and Bleak house but perhaps he's best known for starring in Star Wars as Wedge Antilles.

"I always felt that my character 'Wedge' was fairly kind of minor, really" he explains.

"But I guess the fact that I was in all three movies means he's bigger than I thought".

"It was a very small budget" he continues, "I remember seeing the first shot of the very first film and thinking 'oh my god, this is extraordinary' because they broke so much ground. Technically, it was quite extraordinary what they did".