Singing and dancing in the street
New Alexandra Theatre
THE plot for 42nd Street might be a little lacking, but it doesn’t really matter when you’re being wowed by glitzy dance routines and feasting on classics including We’re in the Money, Keep Young and Beautiful and I only have Eyes for You.
This UK Productions’ performance is pure show business!
The story revolves around the naïve, bright-eyed and enthusiastic Peggy Sawyer, played by talented Jessica Punch, who arrives late for the casting call for Pretty Lady.
Over lunch, some experienced hoofers tell Peggy to Go into your dance and, predictably, she gets to join the chorus line. Marti Webb memorably plays diva Dorothy Brock, who is two-timing her sugar daddy Abner Dillon (Bruce Montague) and Carol Ball is delightful as writer Maggie.
Blundering into the leading lady and causing her to break her ankle is not a good career move so Peggy is sent packing by the imperious director Julian Marsh who is superbly portrayed by Dave Willets.
Marti Webb, dolled up to the nines as the Broadway star Dorothy Brock
Nevertheless, the show must go on and the cast persuade Marsh that Peggy is the only one who can save everybody’s futures so he entices her back with a moving rendition of Lullaby of Broadway.
As with many musicals, the love interest is a bit of contrived ballyhoo. Hoofer Billy Lawlor (James O’Connell) takes a shine to Peggy while Anytime Annie (Rebecca Marks) shuffles off to Buffalo in a honeymoon routine. Even newly-married Dorothy changes her mind about rivalry with Peggy and shows her how to get an audience to listen through About a Quarter to Nine before Marsh kisses her on her way with the famous line ‘you are going out a youngster but you’ve got to come back a star’.
From the opening audition number led by dance master Andy Lee (choreographer Graeme Henderson), we were swept along by sizzling and energetic routines that included a Busby Berkley-stylr routine from the girls and synchronised bow-ties and precision tapping by the boys.
The sparkling finale left us in no doubt why 42nd street is considered one of the greatest musicals of them all.
In the performance we watched, the glittering finale was marred by some clunking noises from behind the stairway but that didn’t seem to mar anyone’s enjoyment because this show is all about wonderful songs and lyrics accompanied with precision tap dancing. Set design was by Douglas W Schmidt, and the backstage team did a fantastic job with the many costume changes.
This is a timeless backstage fairytale where Peggy’s dreams come true. We thought it was terrific fun and if you love musicals, you’re in for a treat! To July 14