Theatre Review: 42nd Street

Last night London’s Theatreland celebrated all that is Broadway with the press night of 42nd Street. It turned into a royal event too as the Theatre Royal Drury Lane flung open the foyer doors to welcome HRH the Duchess of Cambridge.

HRH Duchess of Cambridge at 42nd Street Photo: Matt Crockett

HRH Duchess of Cambridge at 42nd Street Photo: Matt Crockett

But any thought of who we were sitting next to faded as the curtain rose to reveal the tap dancing feet of the huge chorus of 42nd Street as they “audition” for a part in a new Broadway show.

And as it started, so it continued, giving the audience exactly what they wanted: great throw away lines and dance moments to keep in your heart for ever.

The headline star of the show is Sheena Easton who plays a fading star struggling to deal with the demands of a new show but the twin stars of the show are undoubtedly Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer and the amazing dance numbers.

Peggy Sawyer is a chorus girl from Allentown. She turns up late for her audition, but manages to get into the chorus line at the last moment. A pretty basic plot line sees a curious combination of dancing natural and hometown clumsy somehow land her the lead role and it comes down to our loveably heroine to save the day, which of course she does!

Clare Halse plays the part with winning enthusiasm and there is no doubting her performance skills – it is a joy to see tap done at this standard.

In fact the whole dancing cast are amazing. Extraordinarily well drilled by Randy Skinner, they tap their way through some of the best known numbers in tap.

They also look amazing. 24 girl and 12 boy dancers with stunning costumes and nano-second timing, in full flow, is a sight to behold and it is easy to see where the reputed £8m budget has gone with some numbers requiring full cast, costume changes, seemingly mid shuffle-ball-change!

Bruce Montague (you remember, from 70’s TV sitcom Butterflies) plays a loveable Abner Dillon, who puts up the money to see Sheena Easton’s grumpy Dorothy Brock star and Tom Lister plays cool, calm, impressario Julian Marsh trying to keep the ship afloat.

All in all the show provides what we all need most: a bit of escapism and a lot of fun!

42nd Street Theatre Breaks are currently available at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane until 22nd July 2017 but, with 4 and 5 star reviews across the board, it is bound to be in town for much longer!