I’ve been holding this review back for a while as I was prohibited from publishing it until the official press night had occurred (I saw the show on its opening night on February 20th), and I’m so happy to be finally sharing my thoughts on this marvelous show!
Classic, timeless, and the ultimate ‘backstage musical’, 42nd Street tells the story of producers putting on what they hope to be the next musical smash-hit, and all of the trials and tribulations that go with it. We meet young Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse), the fresh faced chorus girl from a small-town who runs into leading lady Dorothy Brock (Sheena Easton), and due to an injury, Peggy may get the big break she’s always wished for…
Featuring iconic songs “We’re In the Money”, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo”, and the fantastic “Lullaby of Broadway”, this show is perfect for the dreamers, dancers, and dedicated fans of Broadway.
Despite it being opening night, I could not find a single hiccup or hitch with the show; everything ran seemingly smoothly – and trust me, a lot could have gone wrong. Douglas W. Schmidt’s set design is ambitious, and certainly pays off to create a spectacular revival which is dazzling on many levels. From staircases rising from the floor, to terraced houses which company members peep their heads out from in ‘Sunny Side to Every Situation’, and some stunning silhouette work, the staging of every musical number has a purpose, is slick and well-styled, and just gorgeous to look at. I am pulled in utterly by the spectacle of this production.
This show is a real winner, and there are some standout performances from cast members including Tom Lister’s charming turn as Julian Marsh, Sheena Easton’s vocally beautiful Dorothy Brock, and of course to Clare Halse for her spunky, energetic, and quirky portrayal of Peggy. Her energy was astounding and she was easily my favourite character in the production – she simply did not get as much credit as she deserved after that amount of dancing.
Though individual performances must be praised, 42nd Street is, above all, a show which would be nothing without its company. The ensemble is possibly the biggest I have ever seen in the West End, filling the theatre with killowatt smiles and boundless energy in an instant. Randy Skinner’s choreography makes full use of the large stage and cast, casting light and shade with both intricate tap numbers which are music to my ears (when the music stopped and the cast continues tapping I thought my heart had stopped), and dances which really show off patterns and spacing in the theatre, or one number which (I forget the song’s name) makes use of feathers and a large mirror; genius. I haven’t tap-danced for over three years and watching the show made me ache for my old dancing shoes!
This show is the perfect remedy to a rainy day. Step back into the glitzy Broadway of the ’30s, slip on your well-worn tap shoes and meet those dancing feet!
Though I was kindly invited by Dewynters for the first preview, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos from the 42nd Street website.