Wednesday, 31 October 2012

42ND STREET (UK Tour) October 2012

Two of the West End's finest and most popular stars Marti Webb and Dave Willetts bring the glitz and glamour of Broadway to Wolverhampton in this energetic touring production of the 1980's tap dancing musical comedy.

Peggy Sawyer from Allentown finds herself cast in her first professional job - a chorus girl in 'Pretty Lady', a new Broadway musical extravaganza in it's Off-Broadway tryouts staged at height of the Great Depression. After tripping over and breaking the ankle of the leading lady Dorothy Brock, Peggy is fired from the show. The cast convince the director that only Peggy herself is capable of taking over the role and she returns with only 48 hours to learn the part.

Marti Webb and Dave Willetts lead the cast and are both effortlessly perfect in the roles of Dorothy Brock and director Julian Marsh. Willetts captures the harshness of a stern Broadway director under pressure, and during the final moments of the show in particular his vocals secure the audience's firm attention. Webb never fails to look the glamorous diva, even with her ankle in plaster. Her character is however intended to be outshone by the younger Peggy Sawyer - the chorus girl turned overnight star played by Jessica Punch. Punch presents us with an over-excited and loveable lead, with a bubbly little character not too far removed from the likes of Bonnie Langford. In fact, the energy of the chorus girls when dancing together pretty much were twenty Bonnie Langford's all giving it the ol' razzle dazzle - the enthusiasm of the entire cast is second to none. 

The other principal roles include Bruce Montague as Abner Dillon who keeps to the most entertaining rich Texan accent. James O'Connell's expert skill and finish to every line shows he is more than capable of being the Pretty Lady's leading man as Billy Lawler. Carol Ball is a delight as Maggie Jones. Graeme Henderson is suited to the role of Andy Lee the choreographer as he himself choreographed this production. The choreography was exciting and complex. I took part in a masterclass with Graeme Henderson when I was a much younger tap dancer and I am all too aware of the difficulty of his fascinating tap routines. 

One routine that was particularly fascinating involved members of the male chorus putting on their tap shoes, beginning a routine and continuing to keep to the rhythms and syncopations whilst putting on suit jackets and doing up a bow tie. Stand out musical numbers include 'We're In the Money' which involved a very shiny-costumed gold routine with giant coins and the 'Lullaby Of Broadway'. 

As much as I love the flashy new musicals that are impressive in their use of technology, one of the reasons why I particularly adore 42nd Street is that it makes no attempt to be modern. The sets look just as dated as the charming choreography of the time, and although I am unable to reminisce about the 1930's it is wonderful to be transported back to such a time, just for the evening. 

It's not too often that the more traditional Broadway musicals tour the UK and so this is a real must see. 42nd Street plays at the Wolverhampton Grand theatre until Saturday 3rd November and you can book tickets here:

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