I first saw 42nd Street with the original cast on Broadway, then again when it opened in London, then the first national tour and several subsequent tours. So it is a musical I know and like very much, so I had been looking forward to this tour for sometime. While of course expecting changes on each tour I found on this occasion, while the cast are excellent, the show has lost its heart, with lacklustre sets and a lack of comedy.
The songs, such as “Dames”, “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me” and “Lullaby of Broadway” are all still there, as is the curtain pausing on the opening number so we see just the legs of the chorus. In fact the big production numbers prove the dancers are at the top of their game, but there is just something missing. The large scale number “We’re In The Money” highlights this, as the large coins the cast carry appear too worn and shabby to be in a major tour and the dropping of the coins in time to the music, which is so much part of the routine, is totally ignored. Also a large mirror, which descends to make a Busby Berkley style routine, looks cheap and slightly unsafe as it manoeuvres its self in to place.
However, Jessica Punch, as the chorus girl Peggy Sawyer, who is reluctantly forced in to the limelight is on excellent form, as is Dave Willetts, who plays the hard nosed director Julian Marsh. But Marti Webb gives Dorothy Brock, the aging star who the show cannot survive without as she holds the key to the finances, a softer edge, which does not entirely work. While Rebecca Marks does not seem to have the comic opportunities the role of Anytime Annie usually has. Interestingly Carol Ball, who plays Maggie Jones in this production, played Annie in the original London production.
There is plenty to enjoy in this large scale musical and admittedly the audience as a whole seemed to enjoy the show, but maybe they were not aware of how much they were missing.