This lavish production sparkles with brilliantly choreographed routines that is guaranteed to make you leave the theatre with a smile on your face.
There is an undeniable charm about this show – whether it is the extraordinary tap dance routines, the natural gracefulness of Clare Halse’s performance as Peggy Sawyer or the lavishness of the costumes – this is a production that draws you in from the very second you hear the first tap dance routine.
Focusing of the tough world of show business and taking audiences behind the scenes of Julian Marsh’s latest show Pretty Lady, 42nd Street effortlessly exposes the harsh realities of working in theatre as seen through the eyes of young Peggy Sawyer. Throw in the diva that is Dorothy Brock and a whole lot of tap dancing and you are given a hugely entertaining production that leaves you beaming from ear to ear.
Everything about Mark Bramble’s production seems to work seamlessly, which thanks to the extraordinary hard work of all of the cast is highly energised from beginning to end. From the wonderfully choreographed routines by Randy Skinner that are so clean and crips with the routines danced to ’42nd Street’ and ‘We’re in the Money’ standing out to the wonderful performances from the orchestra who bring the score so beautifully to life.
But the cast are equally impressive, offering great characterisations to go alongside the fantastic dance routines. Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer is delightful to watch whether she is dancing across the stage (look out for her routine on top of the piano) or the way in which she charms the audience with the occasional moments of goofiness when she gets the job on the show. Bonnie Langford as the diva Dorothy Brock gives a strong force of nature performance that makes the fractiousness between her and Julian Marsh (Tom Lister) a delight to watch. Vocally though at times it feels as though she is straining slightly to be heard over the music.
Ashley Day as Billy Lawlor is a beautiful and graceful dancer to watch, with a lovely chemistry with Clare Halse that creates some lovely moments between them when they dance, while Tom Lister has a powerful presence on stage as the abrupt Julian Marsh.
While perhaps the book and story are the slightly weaker elements of the show, there is no denying that there are other elements that make up for this – not least its sense of humour as seen during ‘Shadow Waltz’ and ‘ Shuffle Off to Buffalo’ or Roger Kirk’s stunning (and numerous) costumes that keep the audience suitably dazzled.
It is a bold and lively production of a classic musical that will leave you with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.
By Emma Clarendon
42nd Street continues to play at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. To book tickets visit: https://lovelondonloveculture.tixuk.com/london-theatre/musicals/42nd-street