I’m so excited to be able to review 42nd Street today because I’ve wanted to see this show since it opened in the Spring. It’s been quite some time since I’ve seen what most people would consider to be a musical, and it was some much needed therapy for me.
Whilst I am more than up for attending any piece of theatre put on a stage (or elsewhere, I mean I’m happy watching it in a park for instance), my favourite shows are always musicals. Musicals with upbeat, well-known numbers. Musicals with cast members defining the term ‘triple threat’. Musicals with a massive show stopper as the finale. And mostly, musical with tap. Man, oh man, do I regret giving up tap lessons.
A story of Broadway dreams, 42nd Street plays out the dream that every young performer hopes for. When Peggy Sawyer auditions for a brand new show, she doesn’t expect to be on the stage. But after the star breaks her ankle during an out of town try out, Peggy must learn the six dances, ten songs and 25 pages of dialogue that make up the show. In just 36 hours.
From the moment the orchestra begins the overture, the audience is captivated. Ready for the show to play out in front of them. And whilst the music is nothing spectacular, it’s memorable. But that could just be thanks to spending some time learning the title song in a musical theatre class around a decade ago. What gives the show its spark, and what really draws the audience, is the choreography. Tap numbers without a toe out of line. Ballet numbers with incredible lines. I spent the entire show with my mouth agape, in awe at the choreography, and it something I want to see more in the West End again.
For me, the standout performer was Stuart Neal. Playing Billy Lawlor, Neal is the actor who caught my eye and honestly it’s a miracle I didn’t throw myself over the Royal Circle safety barrier to tap along to We’re In The Money. The show isn’t about Billy Lawlor, and in fact he sort of falls to wayside as the show progresses, but he’s the one I cheered for. I’ve always been one for the lesser-loved character!
42nd Street was pretty much what I wanted An American In Paris to be. It had the charm of a feel-good musical, choreography to die for (performed by extremely attractive actors, yes please) and it had songs I came out singing. And continued to sing for 3 days after leaving. Okay, so the storyline is very outdated but we’re talking about a show that originally hit the screens 85 years ago and made an appearance on the great white way in 1980. Of course it’s an outdated show. Yes, they could’ve updated the story a little, but I don’t feel like it took away from the storyline.
I’m pretty sure that 42nd Street is the show for the tourists. I mean, when I collected my ticket I think I was the only one in the queue with a British accent. Plus, Theatre Royal Drury Lane is one of the most visually spectacular theatres in London. It’s huge, and was pretty much sold out when I saw the show. Think about it: over 2000 people watching the stars of the show.
So yes, 42nd Street isn’t anything revolutionary. It’s not going to change the world, but it’s 2 hours of happiness at the theatre. I go to the theatre to escape, to dream, and to look for a positive. We follow Peggy’s dreams, and find dreams of our own. Thank you for giving this to me, 42nd Street.
If you’re interested in seeing 42nd Street, why not try for rush tickets through the TodayTix app? I picked mine up for just £25 on the day, and you can save £10 off your first purchase with my code ‘CMXVT‘. Go on, treat yourself to a night of musical magic.