42nd Street

Theatre, Musicals Theatre Royal Drury Lane , Covent Garden Until Saturday October 14 2017
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(17user reviews)
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Clare Halse & company

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Clare Halse & company

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Clare Halse & company

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Clare Halse & company

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Clare Halse & company

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Clare Rickard, Ella Martine, Jasna Ivir, Clare Halse & Emma Caffrey

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Stuart Neal & company

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Stuart Neal, Sheena Easton & Company

A spectacular revival for the glitzy American musical classic

To start with, the red curtain rises just a foot off the stage. And it artfully reveals the star attraction of this mind-blowingly lavish revival of a classic Broadway musical: 40-odd pairs of tap-dancing feet, hammering the boards in perfect unison.

Helmed by Broadway director Mark Bramble, ‘42nd Street’ is as American as a McDonald’s apple pie, a steaming, golden spectacle of showbiz glamour. Fittingly, the plot’s strictly vanilla. The guys are putting on a show. But its temperamental star Dorothy Brock (a wondrously voiced Sheena Easton) is a nightmare to work with, and director Julian Marsh (a rather out of his depth Tom Lister) is going spare. Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse), a wet-behind-the-ears young hoofer (that’s Broadway slang for tap dancer, obviously), turns up, gets in the way, then gets to be a star.

But, like Peggy, this show has a few talents that help it rise above the mundane. Firstly, the wise-cracking book, which is full of bitter, sharp-eyed one liners. Like the bit where a crowd of broke chorus girls turn up at a diner and order ‘Five cups of boiling water, one teabag’. Or still more brutal, the director’s bitter announcement, as he rehearses the living daylights out of Peggy, that ‘I’ll either have a live leading lady or a dead chorus girl’.

And then, between the jokes, there are songs, songs, songs. Harry Warren and Al Dubin might not be the best-known musical theatre team on the block, but they light up ‘42nd Street’ with an electrifying hoard of hits. Think ‘We’re in the Money’ and ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ – although I could have done without retro-sexism fiesta ‘Keep Young and Beautiful (If You Want to be Loved)’ being shoehorned in there. The whippet-thin, perma-grinning chorus make that point without needing to shout about it.

But most of all, this show socks you over the head with good old-fashioned spectacle. In an era where most homegrown musicals rely on a couple of all-purpose sets and some moody lighting, it’s dazzlingly lavish and bright. The huge tap-dancing chorus fill the stage in glitter-tastic costume after costume, and perform kaleidoscopic dance routines that resemble the hallucinations you might get after drinking absinthe in a Tiffany showroom.

With so much glitz on offer, Kate Middleton’s appearance on stage after the curtain call (to promote her charity  I don’t reckon she’s on the payroll) didn’t even come close to getting the biggest cheer of the night. And if that’s not a resounding endorsement for good old-fashioned American musical kitsch done well, I don’t know what is.

By: Alice Saville

Posted:

Venue name: Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Contact:
Address: Catherine St
London
WC2B 5JF
Transport: Tube: Covent Gdn
Price: £25-£75, Premium Seats £125, Mar 20-31, Apr 1-3 previews £15-£65, Premium Seats previews £115
Event website: http://www.42ndstreetmusical.co.uk
To improve this listing email: feedback@timeout.com

Average User Rating

4.9 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:15
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|17
2 people listening
Georgie
1 of 1 found helpful
Tastemaker

Lets just set aside the phenomenal dancing and singing that features in this show, just for a second, and focus instead on what was, for me, one of the greatest and technically astounding examples of lighting production I've seen on a stage for quite some time.  I've never properly considered before how much the lighting used in a West End musical production affects the overall audience experience and enjoyment, but from the very first dance number at the top of the show, it was a stand out feature of the entire visual experience! With shadow play, clever mirror props, the sequins, OH THE SEQUINS which light up the stage... it was just incredible to watch and if it doesn't win the Olivier next year for the lighting i'll be shocked!


Now back to the production as a whole. 


Good grief I've never felt so exhausted watching a show! In a good way, of course - the dancing is outstanding. Not a single step or tap out of place or time. The energy is electric and constant. No one wavers, no one misses a beat - each tap is synchronised and beautiful. It made me wish my parents hadn't given into my whines to quit tap dancing when I was 8 years old! Tap is impressive on a singular level, but when a chorus of 40 or so dancers are all clicking in time to the superb music, it's awe inspiring and gives you those excited goosebumps on the back of your neck and a wide eyed smile on your face!


The singing is equally faultless. Sheena Eastern is marvellous with a voice that belts out throughout the theatre, and each of the supporting cast have their moment to shine too, showcasing that the talent doesn't end with the dancing. I knew neither the story or the songs of 42nd Street before attending the show last night, but did recognise one


The costumes are incredible, with one particularly satisfying moment where the female dancers are lined up to resemble the most satisfying of sequin clad dulux colour charts! The opening scene too highlights some glorious use of colour in the costumes with a pastel array of tap shoes which peep out from beneath the curtain - an incredible sight to begin the show with!


I felt incredibly inspired by 42nd Street as I left the Drury Lane theatre... Not necessarily to go away and book myself into a tap class (that ship has sailed), but just to make sure I go to more West End productions, because it just leaves me so in awe of the hard work and talent that goes into a production like this night after night and that is a wonderful feeling to have. In a world that's got some shit stuff going on in it right now, musicals like this make you feel just that little bit better... sequins and dancing is ALWAYS the answer.

Kelly T
1 of 1 found helpful

One of the best shows I have seen in a very long time! Such a huge cast full of clearly talented tappers with legs of steel. The choreography was impressive, we were visually in awe and wanting to jump out of our seats. Although for me the dancing was the biggest spectacle, the clever staging and lighting (loved the mirror and stairs scenes) along with the amazing voice of Sheena Easton will make this a huge hit!! The cast were so tight, I can't believe this show hasn't opened yet! We were tapping all the way home, right across Waterloo station!

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

This is the most wonderful show. Fact. There’ll be no tiptoeing in and gently suggesting that it’s rather good here, oh no. Like the opening number, I’m boldly, brashly & deliciously declaring that it’s simply gorgeous and something worth bagging a ticket for now!


The story is a classic and one that will strike a chord in the heart of anyone who’s ever dreamt of tapping the toes or treading the boards on the big white way that is Broadway. Chorus girl makes good, saves the day and proves herself when the talented but overbearing legend of the show takes a tumble. 


As said legend Dorothy Brock, Grammy Award winning Sheena Easton is brilliant – dislikeable enough in the first half to have you rooting for her downfall but with enough depth in the performance to make you concede by the finale that she’s a pretty good egg in the end – and as jobbing hoofer Peggy Sawyer, Clare Halse has enough energy to power the sun with one incredible dance routine made to look ridiculously easy after another.


The stage is an absolute riot of colour and style, which is perhaps not surprising given that the show’s costume designer is Roger Kirk who has also dressed the casts of ‘The Boy From Oz’, ‘The King & I’ and ‘Sweeney Todd’ but which should still be applauded. Set pieces are amazing from the opening number – possibly my favourite of the night – which reveals dozens of candy coloured tap shoes furiously drilling away under the red velvet curtains to the enormous Art Deco mirror that tilts down from the ceiling to reveal the kaleidoscopic, Busby Berkeley inspired routine taking place on the stage floor.


Songs include those I was familiar with – ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ and the final ‘42nd Street’ were total showstoppers – and some that were new to me, containing lyrics that made me smile wryly at the slightly-less-than-PC depiction of romance and relationships from decades past but all of which were charming. 


There’s no denying that this is a wonderfully old-fashioned show packed full of dazzling spectacle and some of the most talented performers in the West End working their socks off – if you get the opportunity to go, don’t even hesitate for a second...you’ll be grinning from ear to ear for days afterwards!

GeorgeX
Tastemaker

This musical is going to blow your mind! One of the best musicals running in West End at the moment. Fantastic choreography, direction, lighting, set design, songs and well structured plot with start and finish points. This is the most crowded stage you will ever see; so many talented dancers. singers, actors create a unique performance not to be missed. A Broadway story with New York and showbiz-glamour air all over as well as superb tap dancing that even the judges in "Britain got Talent" would stand up to congratulate these performers. This show deserves every single penny you are going to spend!

Anna E
Tastemakertastemaker

The Theatre Royal Drury Lane is absolutely the perfect venue for such a fabulous musical. From start to finish it has toe tapping well known musical numbers including We're in the Money, I only have eyes for you and lullaby on broadway with fantastic costumes, lights and pizzaz. Bringing old-school broadway glitz to the west end. Tom Lister (who you may remember as being Carl King who was murdered in Emmerdale! Haha) as Julian Marsh and Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer were standout. The tap dancing and choreography is faultless and with fantastic musical direction from the fabulous Jae Alexander. Cannot recommend this show highly enough as a fantastic night out for all the family.

OnlymeElena
tastemaker

My verdict - it's simply overwhelmingly stunning. 

As the first part was processing, for a moment I thought  - not another very American broadway style cabaret  show, like American in Paris, which I didn't particularly enjoyed. But as the show was building up it was becoming better and better with every tap step, every song, every act. 

There are so many actors, so many fabulous sets, costumes, songs. The culmination reached its peak at the scene dancing on the steps, covering the whole stage from side to side and all way up as well. The audience gasped responding how magnificent the set looked. Every step was litten up and around 30 dancers were tap dancing going up and down the stairs. It was just jaw-dropping. Another scene was no less fascinating, when actresses were lying on the stage and a huge hanging over them mirror was reflecting how they were moving, creating very synchronised beautiful shapes with their legs and arms. 

The singing is great and the actors are playing very well. Highly recommend the show!!! And, of course, The Drury lane theatre is worth the visit as well.    

Natasha Tooray
Tastemaker

I went into this production, not knowing what to expect. As soon as the curtains lifted, we were greeted with a stage full of tap dancing performing, all creating an unreal sound (so unreal, I spent 5 minutes wondering whether the orchestra were lending a hand too - they weren't!)


The storyline was of a Broadway production 'Pretty Lady' and the director casting, rehearsing and putting together the show. The characters addressed the audience, which gave a more interactive feel. 


The voices were truly beautiful, and the dances perfectly choreographed to the jazzy hands to the sounds of around 40 pairs of tap shoes dancing in unison. 


A favourite part was definitely the very un-PC and chauvinistic 'keep young and beautiful', with many dancing forming geometric shapes with their bodies, underneath a mirror. Very well done and gorgeous effects!

Karen N
tastemaker

If you like La La Land - great, you'll love 42nd street! If you don't (like me) then still give this a go. There are some clear overlaps in terms of music genre and story line (young actress journey to become a star) and I wonder if that's the reason for reviving the 1930s musical now. However, in my humble opinion this is a way more entertaining and higher energy interpretation of the Hollywood's golden era. The singing was great and the tap dancing was even better! It makes me want to join them on stage and dance away. 

Laura B
tastemaker

This show features an insane number of dancers, who are all brilliant - the chorus really makes it as the big numbers with all of them dancing are so lively and great. I took my mum who said it has razmataz, and she would also like to give it 5 stars. There was a decent plot, unlike many musicals and some clever things with the staging. The theatre is pretty small so even if you're near the back you'll get a decent view and I loved that the ushers were telling people off for having their phones out. 

In summary, ff you like a proper old school all-singing all-dancing show, definitely go see it!

Julie R
Tastemaker

I'm not particularly a fan of musicals normally - ever since watching West Side Story and wondering why they had to have a fight by dancing! 


The theatre itself is a lovely old theatre with 4 levels and several Royal boxes.  The music started to play to get everyone to quieten down ready for the start and then it started with bang - loads of people tap dancing and clever use of the lighting to create shadows.  I particularly liked the clever use of the scenery and lighting, particularly when they lowered a big mirror down to reflect the dancers and they had the cast in 'Celebrity Squares' formation as they lit up different members of the cast.


I had no idea what the story was beforehand and just recognised a couple of songs, but there was actually a pretty good storyline to it as well, rather than just dancing.  The cast were brilliant and I could just imagine them going around together in real life like as in the show.


There was a 'Mexican Wave' style standing ovation at the end, where people starting standing up, then when everyone was standing, some started to sit back down, so most people start to sit back down as well, then the other stood back up!


We just about managed to stop ourselves tap dancing all the way back to Charing Cross.  It is a definite must see.

Tyan
tastemaker

Definitely a five star show! The show started with a bang, all the tap dancing was astonishing. I have never thought I'll love tap dance but this completely blew my mind away!

There is never a dull moment in this show, costumes, stage effects, lightning and dances were brilliant! I particularly like the use of mirror in one of the performances, it was a genius idea and had not seen this before in any other shows.

Expect a lot of dancing and songs, the cast was stunning, audience loves the show as evidenced by standing ovation. If there is one musical you have to watch, this is definitely it!

Ros A
Tastemaker

42nd Street isn't terribly well known in the UK and I went into it knowing little about the story and even less about the music. I was pleasantly surprised by this all-singing, all-dancing musical with a giant cast (the crowd scenes must have neared to 60 people on stage) and it's a real old school glamour spectacular. 


I'm usually an Act 2 Sour Sally ('god, this has dragged on too long, can't we go now?') but act 2 was actually considerably better than Act 1 - much more fast-paced, better songs and better jokes. 


I very much enjoyed it and I would recommend it as suitable for the whole family. You'll spend a few hours dazed by the spangly costumes, perma-smiles and cheeky (if a little bit samey) songs. 

Vera S
tastemaker

Now there's an all-singing, all-dancing show if I've ever seen one!


If you've recently watched La La Land and need an antidote for the so-called hit Hollywood musical, you couldn't find a better show of pure Broadway glamour than 42nd Street. Set in New York (and Philadelphia) in the 1930s, the story whisks you away into the world of showbiz where every young girl dreams of tapping the night away. Peggy, our main character, fits the frame perfectly - cute, great dancer and singer and a little all-over-the-place, and from her very first entry she brings it all to the stage.


Now, don't expect anything complicated story-wise - but who needs it when it would just distract from the huge and shiny sets, glamorous costumes and the incredible tap dancing talent that is demonstrated throughout the evening. From the first time the curtain lifts (halfway so you only see an array of colourful feet tapping madly) the talent on stage is evident. This is truly a selection of the best of London's dancers - no one is out of line, the tapping is spot on, and my head is still kind of ringing from it (in a good way).


Sets with painted backgrounds, classic Broadway scenes of jazz clubs and street lamps, and costumes with so much glimmer sometimes you have to squint characterise this show best. I cannot say enough about those costumes, really - I don't think there's a single colour on the scale that doesn't appear at least once at some point during the show.


I hope this show stays forever. It ought to. This is classic Broadway for you, and it doesn't get better (okay maybe on actual Broadway. Maybe.). There's dancing, singing, shows and lights and love - really all you need to come away happy. 42nd Street is *so* worth it.

Dimple M
tastemaker

An absolutely delightful show to watch. Captivates the audience making you want to get up and tap dance (even though I have no idea how).

The performers were on point,choreograph was hypnotising and the set design was incredible.

I'd definitely recommend the show to friends and family and would happily go and see it again.

A show that will have you leaving the venue with a smile.

The Man on the Street

Even having Royalty on stage could not take any the focus from the true star ... The show !


This revival of 42nd Street is ( in my view ) as close to perfection as you can get in the world of musical theatre. Opening night audiences tend to try too hard, but I honestly thought this amazing spectacle was going to get standing ovations at several points - not just the riotous reception at the finale.


Please don't take my word for it. Buy a ticket and go. It will be an investment in delight.

dnwilliams

This is the best musical I've seen since Half A Sixpence, and I recently saw An American in Paris and The Girls (ugh) more recently. The plot is thin, the accents dodgy, but the all singing, all-dancing cast throw themselves into every number, and the chorus is a well-oiled machine. The promotional art (I'm guessing they half want you to think it's Chicago) really doesn't sell you on the colourful, traditional show in store. Must love tap dancing.

Deon Pillay (theindependentfoodie)
tastemaker

From its breathtaking staging, dazzling costume and energetic dancing, you will be in for a treat. This revival of a great classic will definitely have you coming back for more. Sheena Easterns voice is mesmerising. The cast are young, dynamic and energetic. This is definitely a must see for lovers of tap.