Review Round-Ups

Did 42nd Street get the critics' toes tapping?

Find out what the critics thought of the revival production

Sarah Crompton, WhatsOnStage


"It’s such fun this idea of a show within a show, and it’s the reason 42nd Street is the most sophisticated and joyful of backstage musicals. It simultaneously enables the audience to root for the young hoofers of 1933 who are staving off the breadline by flinging their talents into a flamboyant musical production – and to know that what we are watching is also a product of our own time, and our longing for escapism in an age of doubt."

"The process of flattening and broadening has continued in this revival, directed by Mark Bramble, which has designs by Douglas W Schmidt and Roger Kirk that are even brasher and brighter than before, with mixed results. For example, oddly, for the wonderful "We’re in the Money", the green and white dollar flavoured costumes are now just white and gold, which reduces rather than increases the razzle dazzle effect."

"The show delivers big time; the razzmatazz of the staging is so preposterous that it makes you smile, especially when it is delivered by a chorus drilled with pure precision in choreography remounted by Randy Skinner from Gower Champion’s original."

Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph


"If you don’t like tap-dancing, run for the hills: 42nd Street is the tyrannosaurus rex of tap. "

"Size is absolutely everything in this shiny, streamlined homage to a vanished world of razzmatazz in which a poor, young out-of-town hopeful called Peggy Sawyer shuffles her way into the company of a fictional Broadway-bound musical (Pretty Lady) and then, laughing in the face of cliché, becomes the star of the show and an overnight sensation, smitten en route with the show’s slave-driver of a director Julian Marsh."

"Hats off to the principals – Sheena Easton thrilling of voice and haughty of mien as insufferable (and suddenly incapacitated) leading lady Dorothy Brock… But the garlands belong to the ensemble."

Michael Billington, The Guardian


" However welcome it is to see Sheena Easton on stage – and the dancing is excellent – there is something curiously heartless about this revival of a musical first seen on Broadway in 1980. In all honesty, I’ve been more moved by a military tattoo."

"It is, however, just as well that the dancing distracts us from some of Dubin’s dubiously sexist lyrics. In this day and age it is astonishing to hear the chorus sing, in "Keep Young and Beautiful", 'What’s cute about a little cutie is her beauty, not brains.' "

"What keeps the show alive are the dances, and Bramble as director and Randy Skinner as choreographer stage them with well-drilled exactitude… Much of the best work comes from the minor characters: in "Shuffle Off To Buffalo", Christopher Howell as an errant groom and Emma Caffrey as his luscious bride provide welcome comic relief."

Alice Saville, Time Out


"This show has a few talents that help it rise above the mundane. Firstly, the wisecracking 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’. "

"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 tapdancing 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."

Fiona Mountford, The Evening Standard


"The ultimate rags-to-riches, understudy-to-star musical fable of Broadway, is quite the tappiest show out."

"Particularly delightful is "We’re in the Money", a glittery number in gold sequins in which the dancers go to work atop large model dime coins."

"And yet. The characters are wafer-thin, the plot hokey and we simply don’t care whether ‘legendary’ (apparently) director Julian Marsh’s (Tom Lister) latest extravaganza will make it on the Big White Way once stroppy star Dorothy Brock (Sheena Easton) breaks her ankle."

42nd Street is currently booking at Theatre Royal Drury Lane until July 2017.

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