‘Julian Marsh is doing a show!’
When we heard that 42nd Street was coming to The Theatre Royal, Dury Lane, London we couldn’t contain our excitement.
A dazzling production that sees an ambitious musical come together of song and dance featuring the best tap we’ve seen in a long time.
– The Background –
For those not familiar with the story of 42nd Street, it was first produced as a film by Warner Bros in March 1933 when America was four years into the Great Depression.
Harry Warren and Al Dubin created the 4 songs in the movie and had a dazzling star-cast including Ruby Keeler, Ginger Rogers and Dick Powell. Choreography came from Bushby Berkeley and was soon the most profitable movie release of the year.
– The Production –
Starting on the stage of the 42nd Street Theatre we see the fabulous array of dancers competing for a chance to star in Julian Marsh’s upcoming musical.
As the curtain ‘half’ rises we see the classic array of tap shoes in the most beautiful pastel colours light up the stage and already we get that electrifying buzz that continues throughout the entire performance.
Our first glimpse of the Young & Ambitious Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse) sees her tumble onto the stage for the audition to be in the the Chorus Line – but as she has arrived late she is turned away red-faced.
Billy Lawlor (Stuart Neal) is determined to let the young Sawyer stay in the audition and begs for the chance for her to stay and audition, but to his dismay, she leaves without the chance.
We are also introduced to Dorothy Brock the feature role of Pretty Lady (the play which is being staged) who features in the very clever and enchanting Shadow Waltz.
On our evening we had the chance to see the outstanding CJ Johnson who plays the understudy for Sheena Easton.
The stage is then transformed into the hustle and bustle of New York City and we see some of the Chorus Line at the Gypsy Tea Kettle Restaurant.
What I loved about this scene is the little conversations that occurred with the sounds of the tap shoes – a bit like an echo and a response – that works efficiently and to the point until all the girls are dancing together. It is in this scene that we see Peggy Sawyer bump into Andy Lee the choreographer (Graeme Henderson) and he gives her the opportunity to feature in the chorus line after seeing her exceptional tap dancing skills.
We then watch as her journey turns from small town girl to Lights! Camera! Action! – surprising everybody’s expectations and becoming the starring role in Julian Marsh’s (Tom Lister) production of Pretty Lady.
Some of our favourite moments on Sawyer’s Pathway to Stardom include:
The glamorous mirror that comes down from the ceiling and assists with showing the girls jaw-dropping synchronisation on stage (perfect Busby Barclay). As they create patterns of stars and suns, the stage is lit up in a beautiful array of pastel pinks and blues. It’s very clever and done in a Rockette Military fashion that you just want to watch again and again.
The beautiful array of rainbow dresses! When all the girls line up to reveal the gorgeous gowns it is one of the most breath-taking displays we have seen. See the image below to see what we mean.
We’re in the money! The glitz & glam of the costumes with the sequins shining! The tap, the singing, the performance… by this point the Academy felt a bit star struck. The solo tap performance from Billy Lawlor (Stuart Neal) was incredible and really created the climax to the number.
The dressing rooms when all the dancers think they haven’t got a show. A conversation between the rooms are illustrated by lighting up different boxes at a time to see the singers. The lighting makes this one because it keeps the audience on the edge of their seat trying to guess the next box to light up.
Once finished the audience can see a screen that has been sat infront of the set the whole time and makes it look like the front doors have closed. It’s very well done and the lyrics highlight the highs and lows of a performers career but to always see the ‘sunny side to every situation’.
The incredible ending to the show -42nd Street-
Scene 8 & 9 is the ultimate ending to the show and thank god they do a reprise because you definately leave wanting more! The canon, the tap steps, the timing, the focus and attention to detail really is a firework display and is quirky and charasmatic. As soon as you think you’ve got it they change it up and layer the taps to create an electrifying sound on stage. A-ma-zing!
The charismatic, colourful and electric production has you hooked from the very beginning with numbers such as Keep Young and Beautiful, Shuffle off to Buffalo and We’re in the Money.
It’s the production that keeps on giving and one that you definitely don’t want to stop.
It’s not every day that you get to see a standing ovation with an electric buzz feeling that fills the entire Theatre from the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the audience.
We loved visiting it as a Dance Academy and can’t wait to take ideas and inspiration for our upcoming Gala Production.
Have you managed to see the production yet? Let us know what you think!
The RTB Team,
Miss Sally & Lou x