42nd Street opens at Drury Lane

It’s been over 30 years since the unforgettable sound of a chorus line of company tapping feet could be heard on the London stage.  Thankfully though, this March finally saw the return of the highly anticipated Broadway classic ‘42nd Street’ to the West End.

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Based on the legendary Busby Berkeley's 1933 movie, ‘42nd Street’ is the tale of a starry-eyed young dancer named Peggy Sawyer who leaves Allentown, Pennsylvania to head to New York to audition for the chorus of a new Broadway musical called ‘Pretty Lady’.

The story is not original - small town chorus girl moves to the big city in search of fame and fortune. However whatever ‘42nd Street’ lacks by way of narrative, it more than certainly makes up for in performance.

As theatre productions increasingly feel the need to compete with their film and television counterparts with special effects and computer generated imagery, ‘42nd Street’ has no gimmicks.  Instead it relies on pure talent, in its 50 strong cast (as well as good old fashioned song and dance) to entertain. Much loved songs include ‘We’re in The Money’, ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ as well as the iconic title track ‘42nd Street’.

1980’s pop sensation, Sheena Easton makes her West End debut as Dorothy Brock and encapsulates the role as a temperamental seasoned Broadway star of the show. Former ‘Emmerdale’ star Tom Lister oozes charm as the shows director, Julian Marsh, and Clare Halse is equally nimble and glittering as Peggy Sawyer.  

Nevertheless it must be said that it’s the gals and guys of the chorus who steal the show.  These 40 strong singers and dancers pack a punch from the minute the curtain goes up with infectious energy and perfect uniformity in their performance.  Credit here must be given to Randy Skinner’s superb choreography which quite frankly blows the much hailed tap number from this year’s Oscar winning film ‘La La Land’ out of the water.

Although the original book was written in 1933, the show doesn't feel completely dated.  Many of themes resonate today - uncertain futures; financial insecurity and fame being sought as the ultimate prize.  Yet it is a throwback to old fashioned Hollywood, unashamed escapism at its best with huge dance numbers which cannot help make you smile.  

‘42nd Street’ is a nostalgic show that gives you that ‘Ready Brek’ glow feeling as you leave the theatre and will have you shuffle tapping your shoes along the pavement on your journey home.