42nd Street – Touring into November

42ND STREET: Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble, Harry Warren, Al Dubin
Based on the novel by: Bradford Ropes
Touring Alexandra Birmingham till 14 July then, at present, into November 2012
Details: www.ukproductions.co.uk
Runs 2h 30m, one interval

Review: Alexander Ray, 10 July, New Alexandra Birmingham

Just as it should be – and better.

42nd STREET started life as a film in 1933, hugely successful, it featured the, now iconic and instantly recognisable, dance routines of Busby Berkeley. To start at an odd point in this stage show tour, it’s right, proper, and delightful that the reprise after the curtain call is taken by the singing and dancing company – for the company is the real star. Extraordinarily, this production totally successfully captures the feel of the film – in dance, in song (in the 1930s singing tone), and best of all, razzamatazz.

This is a rags (metaphorical!) to riches story of an out-of-town wannabe musical comedy performer, Peggy Sawyer, who has to step in for an injured star and becomes a star herself. The show looks back to a golden age of musical comedy and a golden age of lavish production. Interestingly it appeared as a film at a time of economic depression, just as we view it now.

Perhaps that’s why its optimistic escapism is so welcome – you do feel better for having watched it.

Jessica Punch plays the perky Peggy Sawyer, singing and dancing beautifully and leading us into the final 42nd STREET with gentle command. Punch is joined by a talented group of soloists including a charming Billy Lawler from James O’Connell.

LULLABY OF BROADWAY, with its trickily different two forms is marvellously led by Davie Willets as Julian Marsh the charismatic director. And the syncopated tap routines of the final number are entirely the thrill they’re meant to be.

A song and dance show par excellence and a company ‘who are all of them stars and all of whom deserve to twinkle’ – I adapt the Marilyn Monroe quote . . .

Andy Lee: Graeme Henderson
Maggie Jones: Carol Ball
Phyllis: Billie-Kay
Lorraine: Jenny Jones
Anytime Annie: Rebecca Marks
Mc: Jamie Harris
Billy Lawlor: James O’Connell
Peggy Sawyer: Jessica Punch
Julian Marsh: Dave Willetts
Dorothy Brock: Marti Webb
Abner Dillon: Bruce Montague
Pat Denning: Stephen Weller

Ensemble: Lucy Ashenden, George Bray, Tabitha Camburn, Felicity Chilver, Daniel Clift, Abigail Climer, Katy Day, Anouska Eaton, Josh Kiernan, Stevie-Jean McGuire, Holly Mitchell, Marios Nicolaides, Ben Palmer, Debbie Paul, Clare Rickard, Hollie Sorelle, Sebastian Sykes

Director: Mark Bramble
Choreographer: Graeme Henderson
Musical Supervisor: Gareth Williams
Set Designer: Douglas W Schmidt
Costume Designer: Roger Kirk
Lighting Designer: David Howe
Associate Lighting Designer: Wingnut
Sound Designers: Jon Higson and Ross Portway

2012-07-12 10:11:06

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