Theatre Royal Drury Lane – booking until January 2019
Reviewed by Claire Roderick
There’s something irresistible about 42nd Street, the audience leave with a spring in their step after experiencing such an uplifting and unashamedly old-fashioned musical.
The story of the talented dancer plucked from the chorus line to take the starring role in a Broadway musical is the Cinderella story of the American Depression, and this revival is injected with new energy by Bonnie Langford joining the cast as Dorothy Brock, the star of “Pretty Lady”.
The story is pretty cheesy, but that doesn’t matter when the musical numbers are so stunning. Under music director Jae Alexander, the orchestra belt out familiar tunes as the cast dance the audience’s cares away. Randy Skinner’s choreography is straight out of Hollywood musicals, with glorious costumes and staging that makes jaws drop. Keep Young And Beautiful, We’re In The Money and 42nd Street will just blow your mind.
Claire Halse is a powerhouse of tap, with unbelievable solos in 42nd Street, and nails Peggy Sawyer’s naivety and ambition. Ashley Day as cocky tenor Billy Lawler is the perfect dance partner, while Tom Lister as Julian Marsh marshals proceedings with convincing egotism and drive. But Bonnie Langford steals every scene, bubbling with energy and presence. Her first scene feels like a fabulous remake of her Bugsy Malone performance as a youngster, with great comic timing and lack of vanity. Whether she’s belting out Boulevard of Broken Dreams or swooning in I Only Have Eyes For You, Langford’s vast experience and huge talent lights up the stage.
42nd Street is simply phenomenal, with two stellar leading ladies lifting this wonderful production to unbelievable new heights.