As I’d already seen the touring version of 42nd Street a year or so ago, I wasn’t originally going to bother with the West End version at Drury Lane. But I heard so many positive things about it that in the end I gave in and got a ticket (only £15 for the second row – bargain).
Well, all I can say is that I’m so glad I did. 42nd Street, an old-fashioned hymn to Broadway, might not have the most intriguing plot, but the sheer spectacle of Mark Bramble’s production puts pretty much everything else I’ve seen on the West End to shame. The curtain rises on a multitude of tap-dancing feet in perfect syncronicity, and this is just the beginning. The routines associated with Al Dubin and Harry Warren’s classics like ‘In The Money’ and ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’ are breathtaking, and the title track’s routine is also pretty impressive.
Bramble co-wrote the original 1980 Broadway show, based on the 1933 MGM film. It is set on Broadway in the 1930s, when legendary director Julian Marsh is putting on a new show, Pretty Lady. Showbiz hopeful Peggy Sawyer joins the cast, and soon an accident puts the leading lady Dorothy Brock out of action. Peggy is newly cast as the star: will she be up to the job?
Tom Lister is excellent as leading man Julian Marsh, and Sheena Easton does a good job as diva Dorothy. Clare Halse is simply stunning as Peggy, with a lovely voice and perfect mastery of her dance steps. In fairness, though, credit must go to the whole ensemble, who work in perfect harmony and make 42nd Street the stunning spectacle that it is.
This is old-fashioned musical theatre at its best, a big song and dance show with a true wow factor. Any fan of musicals should not miss this.