By Peter May
“Musical comedy – the most glorious words in the English language”. Not my words but of the character Julian Marsh utters mid way through this production. It would be hard to argue with that statement as this latest revival is positively stunning. From start to finish this toe tapping extravaganza is simply incredible. The show has pace, energy and visual flair in abundance, with marvellously colourful costumes and inventive décor.
“42nd Street” is derived from the 1933 Warner Brothers film of the same name, which was loosely based on a novel by Bradford Ropes, a Broadway dancer who drew on his own experience to tell tales of backstage life. The film, choreographed by Busby Berkeley, ignored most of the Ropes novel, using just its final chapters to tell a classic tale of the chorus girl who gets her chance to shine under the spotlight. She has her work cut out however when she has just 36 hours to learn six songs, 10 dances and 25 pages of dialogue in time for the New York opening.
Its first musical appearance debuted in 1980 under tragic circumstances where its director Gower Champion actually died during curtain call on the opening night. Top billing in the cast is ‘Morning train’ singer Sheena Easton who plays past her prime Donna Dorothy Brock. The character has an inability to dance but has an amazing voice. So when a careless chorus girl breaks Dorothy’s ankle, the production of ‘Pretty Girl’ is thrown into chaos. Emmerdale star Tom Lister plays the stern director Julian Marsh alongside her and shines with his baritone voice.
As you would expect the lead actors are terrific but the production truly shines thanks to the sheer amount of backing dancers – a cast total of 48! Memorable numbers such as Keep Young and Beautiful fill the enormous stage using terrific synchronised choreography with rotating mirrors. Shuffle off to Buffalo is played out on a bus with great comical display as well. The sheer amount of energy throughout is so engaging that the audience leapt to their feet for numerous standing ovations.
Set amongst the Great Depression in 1933, there is nothing to be depressed about after seeing this show. You will be mad to miss it and no doubt be depressed if you do.
Until 22 July. 0844 412 2955