Set in 1930’s Depression hit America, we meet Peggy Sawyer (Jessica Punch); chorus girl wannabe who finds herself cast in the line of Julian Marsh’s (Dave Willets) new production of Pretty Girl. When leading lady Dorothy Brock (Marti Webb) has an accident and cannot continue with the show, the new girl is thrust in to the limelight and finds herself the star of the show.
Yes, in places 42nd Street is showing its age and it has never been famed for its dialogue but it is in the dancing that this show dominates and comes to the fore. The tapping is simply amazing and the big numbers do not fail to disappoint. "We’re in the Money" and the title number show the breath-taking ability of the ensemble who are the real stars of the show. Never putting a foot wrong and creating a delightful thunderous sound that fills the auditorium and brings a smile to everyone’s face. As a piece of dance based musical theatre it is a triumph.
Douglas W Schmidt's set design is minimal and largely made of painted backdrops. However this allows the stage to be kept as clear as possible to allow the dancing to flow freely and without obstacles and the costumes (Roger Kirk) are looking a little worn in places but sparkle and dazzle just the right amount to help the show shine.
Although some sound issues do hamper a few numbers and the spot light work could be sharper in places, overall this production shows a side of musical theatre that is not often seen in modern productions; the power of top quality tap numbers. 42nd Street can be overlooked when discussing seminal musicals because of what could be perceived as a lack of emotional depth in the book and in the music but it should not be underestimated. It is uplifting, dynamic and powerful through the dance and does not fail to delight all audiences young and old alike.
42nd Street is accessible to all and has a feel good factor to it that is traditional and exciting and holds a place in many people’s hearts for its simplicity of story and music that lets the dance take over. So "Go in to Your Dance" and ’"Come and Meet those Dancing on Feet on 42nd Street" while you can for an enchanting evening of pure entertainment.
- Ruth Lovett