42nd Street

For a great feel-good night I recommend 42nd Street – you’ll be singing the tunes all the way home.”.

Since its opening in 1984 at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane, 42nd Street has always been a juggernaut of a musical.  Its big musical numbers, impressive sets, and magnificent costumes are all created to make a grand theatrical impression. All well and good if you are in a massive theatre – but would the new Created at the Curve production live up to its 1980s and 2017 West End siblings? Put simply the answer is “Yes!”  This might be a smaller production and created to tour but it lacks none of the power of the older productions.

From the opening bars of the overture magnificently scored by Larry Blank the delivery of the iconic music by an orchestra of 10 players is kept tight by Musical Director Grant Walsh. 

For a touring show that has been on the road for many months it still maintains its energy, led by an array of stars giving of their best.  Headed up by Samantha Womack (Dorothy Brock) and Nicole-Lily Baisden (Peggy Sawyer) the singing and dancing is of a high standard from the leading principals to the back line of the chorus.  Just as well, because under the direction of Jonathan Church there is nowhere for anyone to hide.  For me, the star of the show was Faye Tozer of Steps and Strictly Come Dancing fame. She took on the comic role of Maggie Jones with wit and flare.  Not that Tozer out-shone anyone – the stage was filled with stars.  Sam Lips playing Billy Lawlor heads up the male ensemble, with Les Dennis definitely bringing up the rear.  This said, the director of 42nd Street Jonathan Church uses Dennis well and carefully keeps him out of the dance numbers! To be picky, if Julian Marsh (played by Michael Praed) was really the hard taskmaster he is portraying, some of the company hand placements would be a little neater – but I guess that’s what you get from touring a show all over the nations for a long period of time.

On the first night in a new venue you might expect some glitches with the set but not in this production.  The set is slick as are the changes.  Occasionally the lighting didn’t always hit the tight staging, but this can be excused because the sound quality was so good, with not a single cue entry missed.

The projections of the 1930s help us the audience settle into the period as do costumes and wigs. I particularly liked the life-like wigs for the everyday scenes and the slightly tacky ones in the production numbers and the use of the acoustic piano on stage in some of the scenes. With 42nd Street you certainly get a lot of dance for your dime, sometimes maybe a little too much.  I felt the end needed a little more – potentially a costume change and all the company – rather than just the dancers.

For a great feel-good night I recommend 42nd Street – you’ll be singing the tunes all the way home.

This show was reviewed on the 18th September 2023.  42nd Street runs at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until the 42nd Street Tickets | New Victoria Theatre, Woking in Woking | ATG Tickets

Full tour details here: 42nd STREET! | The official site (42ndstreettour.com)

Review written by Paul Wood

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