42nd Street – Theatre Royal Drury Lane until 5th January 2019
Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
42nd Street made famous by the 1933 film is based on the 1932 novel by Bradford Ropes. This glitzy, glamorous revival of 42nd Street is set to make your heart soar, and have you tap dancing down the steps of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane singing Lullaby of Broadway!
When revered Broadway director Julian Marsh (Tom Lister) falls on hard times with both his health and his finances, he helms an ambitious musical as a final production before his retirement. His lead actress, Dorothy Brock (Bonnie Langford), is torn between two loves – the show’s wealthy backer, Abner Dillon (Bruce Montague), and the earnest but penniless actor Pat Denning (Matthew Goodgame). While aspiring young performer Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse) waits in the wings, hoping for her big break.
The revisit was to welcome Bonnie Langford to the production and introduce her to the press. Langford positively dazzles and glows in the role of Dorothy Brock, and leaves you wondering why it hasn’t been hers until now. Her singing strong, her comic timing and expressions perfect, and her movement dreamlike. We were even treated to a double Peggy Sawyer moment in the finale which further cemented Langford’s triple threat status. It felt like in that moment alone she alone owned the West End that night and had returned home to where she rightfully belongs.
This visually spectacular show is as much about the ensemble as it is the leads. Boasting more than fifty (looking at the programme) in the cast, this is a return to epic Broadway glamorous productions. The show itself is all about thrusting a chorine into a leading role and creating a star. My goodness the show has certainly done just that! Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer positively shines. Her dancing effortless and graceful, her innocence and humility endearing.
It is however the debonair, suave Tom Lister playing Julian Marsh who proved once again that he has many strings to his bow. Wowing the audience with his charismatic charm, and impressive singing voice it was easy to be lost in his dreaminess. Other notable performances were Matthew Goodgame (Pat Denning) Graeme Henderson (Andy Lane) Jasna Ivir (Maggie Jones) Christopher Howell (Bert Barry) and the adorable girls (Lorraine, Phyllis, and Annie) Ella Martine, Clare Rickard and Emma Caffrey. Caffrey also made me laugh in Shuffle off to Buffalo where playing opposite Barry she was great comic effect.
It’s all about the hoofing and huge numbers ……..
This is a musical of epic proportions, not only in the number of cast, but it’s set design (Douglas W Schmidt), costumes (Roger Kirk) and huge choreographed numbers. The spectacular tap-dancing, is certainly a feast for the eyes. I won’t give too much away, because you really do need to go and see this one for yourself but I’ll just say this – the navigation of the staircase was utterly mesmerising. Nods to the one and only Busby Berkeley were evident. And bravo to choreographer Randy Skinner who triumphed with sensational choreography throughout. All perfectly executed with regimented precision. The whole cast are triple threats performing iconic numbers such as Keep Young and Beautiful, We’re in the money, Shuffle off to Buffalo, Lullaby of Broadway and the title song 42nd Street. Your ankles will ache from the toe-tapping and hands from clapping, your face from beaming.
In summary …….. Go See!
The production has further matured since I last saw it and has even more sparkle, if that’s even possible. As for the addition of Bonnie Langford she positively dazzles in the role of Dorothy Brock. This vibrantly coloured staggeringly brilliant revival is the stuff that dreams are made of. I implore you to ‘shuffle off to” Drury Lane now for the cast of “Pretty Lady’ awaits you!
Julian Marsh is most definitely putting on one fabulous show – Drury Lane should be temporarily renamed 42nd Street in its honour!
Book: Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Music: Harry Warren
Lyrics: Al Dubin
Choreography: Randy Skinner
Director: Mark Bramble
Set Design: Douglas W Schmidt
Costume Design: Roger Kirk
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
London WC2B 5JF
until Saturday 5th January 2019
Monday – Saturday: 7:30pm
Wednesday & Saturday Matinees: 2:30pm
Prices range from £15 – £125
0844 995 5500