I have never been to a show where within the first five seconds of the overture starting, everyone around me is tapping their feet, shimmying in their seats and grinning from ear to ear. That’s the power of 42nd Street – a show packed to the rafters with big musical numbers, witty one-liners and more sparkle than Strictly.
It’s a proper, old school musical – based on the black and white film of 1933 – so the classic chorus-girl-made-star plot isn’t exactly water tight, but it moves along at pace (and who cares about plot in a show like this anyway?!). Although themes from the Depression era are touched on – it’s made clear that the main reason the show must go on is because so many jobs are riding on it – the tone of the whole show is light, joyful and sprinkled with Broadway glamour.
The original Warren and Dubin songs – Shuffle off to Buffalo, Young and Healthy and the titular 42nd Street – are complemented by the addition of songs from the duo’s other musicals, such as Lullaby of Broadway, I Only Have Eyes For You and We’re in the Money. Both band and chorus are on top form, filling the theatre with a sound that is of the era but still fresh and irresistibly catchy.
The tap-dancing ensemble are sublime, from the moment the curtain rises on a line of auditioning dancers to the dazzling finale medley (so. Many. Sequins). Clare Halse leads from the front as the fleet-footed new star Peggy Sawyer, while both Jasna Ivir and Emma Caffrey bring buckets of sass to the stage as the comic characters Maggie Jones and Annie.
See this show and I guarantee you will, like me, dance down the staircase of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and out into the night with the songs ringing in your ears and the biggest smile on your face.