Director: Vicki Clarkson
Musical Director: John Barry
Choreography: Benjamin Carter
This show is an adaptation of the 1933 film that was released during the American depression and it gave Americans at that time a little escapism from its problems. Films were written in a very-stylised way, and the dialogue was delivered accordingly. The stage musical came about in 1980 and it proved that the storyline still had that feel-good factor. It has since been revived many times professionally, and very successfully by community theatre groups.
A very workable set which was well lit, easily depicted all the locations. The transitions from one scene to the next were smoothly managed by the S.M. and stage crew. All the props, whether personal or merely set dressing, added to the overall concept. The lighting was good, although maybe some scenes would have benefitted with just a little more in order to underline the drama. The sound was a trifle over amplified and the mic’s were too open for the opening number. The venue is not an easy space to work but by the second act, the right balance was achieved. The mix of dialogue, singing and music strengthened the production.
The company of 40 plus was dressed appropriately, depicting the period. The in-house team that designed and created the costumes gave the each characters credibility. The hair, wigs and make–up completed the 1930s look.
It is something of a misconception saying that this show is a purely dancing show. Together with the choreography, the creative team has to be an equal partner. The director captured the sense of the original concept through defined characterisations, and by the delivery of the stylised dialogue. Similarly, the M.D. gave an excellent reading of the score; Harry Warren’s wonderful music was in safe hands. The choreography was quite breath-taking with machine-like precision. The dramatic platform was set by the storyline and the music. The dance sequences were an explosion of joyous entertainment. Most of the cast didn’t have a dance background but they learnt their new skill through rehearsals.
42nd Street is an ensemble piece; every member of the company danced and tapped moving as one. Their enjoyment and energy added to the entertainment of the evening. The cameo and supporting roles taken by them were well executed. Leading the chorus line of the show’s hoofers is Andy, who was played effortlessly by David Cook.
The back-stage fairy-tale with its raw tenderness unfolded with crafted story telling. Anna Steele, as Maggie Jones, the co–author of “Pretty Lady”, the show within the show, displayed a flair for character acting. Money is needed to put the show on and it came with the leading lady diva, Dorothy Brock. Mia Connor captured the temperament of the prima–donna, and her burning love for Pat Denning. In his debut role as vaudevillian, Pat Denning, Max Walker was clearly in character and contributed to the developing dramatic plot.
As the shows tyrannical director, Julian Marsh, Charlie Dewhurst was firmly in the driving seat. The closing of the show is down to Julian Marsh and Charlie absolutely nailed it. In the juvenile leads were Charlotte Kraunsoe, as Peggy Sawyer, and Jacob Beresford, as heartthrob, Billy Lawlor. Charlotte brought everything to the role, from fancy footwork to pleasing vocals. Swooning his way into character Jacob clearly knew the demands of the role.
42nd Street is a timeless show, with timeless music looking back at the “Golden Days of Hollywood” when talent meant everything. This toe tapping production was a pleasure to watch.