This is a show that is guaranteed to have you tap dancing your way home says Emma Clarendon.

A celebration of the hardwork of all those who work in the theatre industry and filled with plenty of glitter, 42nd Street is a show that is filled with joy and toe-tappingly good songs, you can’t fail to be swept away by it all.

42nd Street follows the hopes and ambitions of Peggy Sawyer, newly arrived in New York from Allentown to audition for director Julian Marsh’s latest show Pretty Lady. However, she soon realises that to make it on Broadway, she has a lot of work to go through in order to get her chance – including dealing with the formidable leading lady Dorothy Brock. As with any classic musical comedy, there is plenty of misunderstandings and laughter along the way to keep the audience thoroughly engaged.

Director Jonathan Church is always a safe pair of hands to deal with a classic musical (as previously seen with his production of Singin’ in the Rain for example) and here is no exception. He keeps the story firmly set in the era that it is supposed to be based, adding nice aspects including video footage of New York in the 1930’s easily transporting the audience back in time as the cast tap dance their way on and off stage. The whole production moves seamlessly from one musical number to the next with plenty of dazzling choreography provided by Bill Deamer, with numbers for ‘We’re in the Money’ and ‘Go Into Your Dance’ in particular standing out, while the costume designs by Robert Jones leave you wanting to play dress up yourself.

Of course, some might argue that the plot might seem a little bit flimsy, but when you are being blown away by the level of talent on display throughout the show it doesn’t matter. At the centre of it all, Nicole-Lily Baisden as Peggy Sawyer has a charming naivety mixed with great comic timing that makes her performance completely endearing to watch, while her tap dancing skills are equally impressive – making it look effortless. Michael Praed as Julian Marsh is suitably gruff and plays down the potential romance between himself and Baisden’s Peggy, putting more emphasis on the way he sees her potential which works better than the implied romance I have seen in a different version of the show.

Elsewhere, there is excellent support in the form of Faye Tozer’s Maggie filled with easy charm and Les Dennis as Bert naturally bringing in laughs as seen through the way he is worked into the routine for ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo’. Vocally impressive Samantha Womack as Dorothy perhaps is a little bit too subtle in conveying the diva side to the character but her performance of ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ is a real highlight, while Sam Lips has a wonderful depth and range to his voice that is a pleasure to listen to.

Everything is very sleek including the harmonies and the way in which the cast during the dance routines put in every ounce of energy they can muster and their enthusiasm and joy is so infectious you can’t help but beam along with them.

Overall, this is such a dazzling and classy take on 42nd Street it is a wonderful treat to watch from start to finish.

By Emma Clarendon

42nd Street continues to play at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking until the 23rd September before continuing to tour.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


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