Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society | BATS | Amateur Musical Theatre Productions | Basingstoke, United Kingdom

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Anything Goes - Julie Simmons in rehearsal

On stage she's Reno Sweeney, a sassy, brassy nightclub singer from the 1930s, with a wisecrack for every occasion. Off stage, she's Julie Simmons, a quietly spoken accountant from Basingstoke.

"She's completely not me!" laughs Julie, who brings racy Reno to life in BATS' production of the Cole Porter musical Anything Goes. "She's brash, confident, knows what she wants and how to get it! It's a real challenge to play her, but really fun as well."

Julie follows musical legends Ethel Merman and Elaine Paige in the role, which sees her embroiled in a shipboard comedy of mistaken identities, ludicrous disguises and madcap antics. She also gets to perform the best-known songs in the show - I Get A Kick Out of You, You're The Top, Friendship, Let's Misbehave, Blow Gabriel Blow and the title song Anything Goes.

Julie Simmons in rehearsal for Anything Goes (centre)

There's a real difference between Julie's normal speaking voice and the ballsy American twang she adopts on stage. "I've been working on getting a lower, deeper chest voice," she explains. "All the support comes from my diaphragm so it gives my voice more oomph for the big numbers."

Reno is Julie's first leading role for BATS so she's pleased to be playing opposite two experienced male leads - Bryn Hughes as all-American guy Billy Crocker and Anthony Mitchell as stuffy English toff Lord Evelyn.

"Bryn really knows his stuff and that makes it easy to act opposite him. Anthony is hilarious as this completely clueless aristocrat who doesn't realise Reno is making a play for him. They're both great to work with."

Julie's also had a hand in the show-stopping tap dance routines: "I'm dance captain, so when our choreographer Nick isn't there I've been rehearsinq the dancers, making tweaks and rejigging some of the numbers if needed."

So how would Julie sum up Anything Goes? "It's a wonderful comedic show with an amazing cast, fantastic songs and just a great night out at the theatre!"