42ND STREET, 5STAR*****, London, Booking into July / October

Book by Michael Stewart Music by Harry Warren Lyrics by Al Dubin..
5Stars *****

Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Catherine St, London WC20 5JF.
Booking to 22 July 2017. Booking for groups to 14 October 2017.

Mon-Sat 7.30pm. Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 2hr 30 mins One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 412 1812.
Review: William Russell 4 April.

Tap dancing heaven.
A seminal 1933 Hollywood musical film it was turned into a blockbuster Broadway musical by producer David Merrick in 1982. The show came to Drury Lane in 1984 and stayed there for five years. There is no reason why this splendid restaging of the greatest tap dancing musical of them all should not do the same. Merrick added songs more songs by Al Dubin and Harry Warren from other films and they stand the test of time. The plot is a classic backstage tale. Unpleasant Dorothy Brock, star of Pretty Lady, a new musical directed by tyrannical Julian Marsh, scourge of Broadway, is trying out in Philadelphia when she breaks her leg on opening night.

Who can save the day? Newcomer chorus girl from the sticks Peggy Sawyer of course, who just happens to be a whiz at tap dancing. The real star of this revival is the ensemble, some 36 in all and the largest on a London stage in decades. Their endless punishing and spectacular routines are breathtaking. Not that the leads are completely outshone. Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock sings splendidly in what must be the least rewarding leading lady role in any musical. Not only is the character a bitch, getting some of the best songs in Act One, she practically disappears in Act Two.

As Marsh Tom Lister is everyone’s idea of an alpha male, and he gets to sing ends up with Lullaby of Broadway and the title song not to mention the girl. Clare Halse as the ambitious Peggy sings and dances like an angel and it is not her fault that she knocked Brock over this breaking her leg.

Add colourful sets, oddly mostly old fashioned flats; extravagant costumes; a Busby Berkeley style routine in which the chorus girls lie in a circle on the revolving stage waving their legs while a vast mirror descends from the flies reflecting the amazing flower shapes they are creating; a huge illuminated staircase filling the width of the stage up and down which everyone tap dances; and outrageous and extravagant costumes and the result is show business at its best.

The odd nod is made to the fact that all this is taking place during the Great Depression – Peggy faints from lack of food and the girls talk about life without work – but really this is just a fairy tale all glitz, glamour and tap routines directed in the manner it should be by Mark Bramble, who has been with it since the beginning. That is to say, when in doubt – tap.

Andy Lee: Graeme Henderson.
Maggie Jones: Jasna Ivir.
Bert Barry: Christopher Howell.
Mac: Mark McKerracher.
Loraine: Ella Martine.
Phyllis: Clare Rickard.
Diane: Billie-Kay.
Annie: Emma Caffrey.
Ethel: Annie Kitchen.
Billy Lowdon: Stuart Neal.
Peggy Sawyer: Clare Halse.
Oscar: Paul Knight.
Julian Marsh: Tom Lister.
Dorothy Brock: Sheena Easton.
Abner Dillon: Bruce Montague.
Pat Denning: Norman Rodman.
Waiters: Greg Bernstein, Luke George, Eddie Myles.
Thugs: Mark McKerracher, Adam Denman.
Doctor: Mark McKerracher.

Greg Bernstein, Philip Berttioli, Sara Bispham, Ronan Burns, Sophie Gamble, Freddie Clements, Adam Denman, Lisa Dent, Jack Evans, Charlene Ford, Katie Foy, Kirsty Fuller, Courtney George, Luke George, RyanCover, Leak Harris, Victoria Hay, RebeccaHerszenhorn, Jessica Keable, Jasmine Kerr, Annie Kitchen, Gabrielle Lewis-Dodson, Dylan Mason, Sam Murphy, Eddie Myles, Millie O’Connell, Billie-Kay, Katherine Pearson, Katy Riches, Zoe Rogers, Christina Shand, Daisy Steere, Karli Vale, Zac Watts.

Director: Mark Bramble.
Musical Staging & Choreographer: Randy Skinner.
Set Designer: Douglas W Schmidt.
Costume Designer: Roger Kirk.
Lighting Designer: Peter Mumford.
Sound Designer: Gareth Owen.
Musical Supervisor: Todd Ellison.
Music Director: Jae Alexander.
Orchestrations: Philip J Lang.
Musical Arrangements: Donald Johnston.

2017-04-08 16:31:15

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