With a jaunty introduction, as soon as that heavy red velvet curtain rises, you catch a glimpse of perfectly formed tap shoes turned out at an exact angle and you can smell the greasepaint in the expectant air, you know this is going to be a show that will be one to remember. Having originally opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1984 42nd Street is back in its rightful home for another run.
The show focuses on Peggy Sawyer's journey from Allen Town to New York to seek her future in the newest show of 1933, 'Pretty Lady'. Taking up the gauntlet after the leading lady sustains injuries, young Peggy is briefed to go on stage a girl and come back a star. No easy feat for a girl fresh from the suburbs.
Heading up a cast including the indomitable Sheena Easton together with Tom Lister of Emmerdale fame, and the wonderfully talented Norman Bowman (always a safe pair of hands) fresh from Murder Ballad, this is a show that is sure to run and run. Applause must be given to Clare Halse and Stuart Neale as Peggy and Billy respectively. To be able to sing, dance and act at this level is truly spectacular. This is the golden ticket that Willy Wonka himself would have wanted to keep.
The dance numbers are slick, with a sense of military precision. The tapping is sharp, crisp and at times with such meticulousness that it sounds like a thousand gunshots. The costumes are bright, colourful and added to setting the scene. Men in dapper top and tails, women in perfectly set hair matching their perfectly set dresses adding romance to the air. The staging seemed almost to be interactive, reflecting the nature of the slow paced and indeed, the rather more up-tempo numbers. For those who have booked their tickets, pay special attention to the mirror scene; such a spectacle.
Of particular note is the set changes. Very clean and very swift considering that the cast is some 56 strong, and each cast member plays a defining moment to both themselves and the audience on stage. Indeed in the routine 'Dames', all the cast are on stage, dancing and whirling like spinning tops, and yet with such a light and effortless beauty that you can only gasp in wonderment at the solid work that has gone into this production. Featuring the songs "We're in the Money", "Shuffle off to Buffalo" and of course 42nd Street, it will be an accomplishment in itself not to want to kick up your heels, don your cane and do a turn in the aisles yourself.
This is one show that your dancing feet will definitely want to meet.
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