It has been 84 years since Ginger Rogers and Warner Baxter starred in the musical movie ’42nd Street’ – a film about a young girl called Peggy Sawyer who lands a part in the chorus line in Broadway’s newest show, only to to step up to the plate and take centre stage once the leading lady gets injured.
Based on Bradford Ropes’ 1932 novel of the same name, the 1933 film became an instant classic and has been delighting viewers for years.
In 1980, the first stage production of 42nd Street landed on Broadway and it wasn’t long before it took the theatre world by storm, with the show having stints across the world – including London’s West End – over the last few decades.
Now 42nd Street is back in London, making its new home on West End’s biggest stage, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and I was lucky enough to attend opening night last week.
A showstopping spectacular of a perfomance, here are five reasons why you should tap dance your way down to Drury Lane and watch 42nd Street pronto:
1. It’s Unique
As somebody who watches a lot (and I mean a lot) of shows in the West End, it can sometimes be hard for one production to stand out above the rest. However, I am still able to name all of the shows that heavily feature tap dancing in their production… And that’s because there is only one, 42nd Street, and it is marvellous.
The beautiful sound of the cast’s tap shoes delicately and rhythmically dancing across the stage becomes surprisingly soothing and borderline hypnotic within minutes of the production’s opening.
Tap dancing gives 42nd Street a real edge over other productions as it is something so rarely seen in musical theatre, which is bizarre considering how incredible some of these tap routines can be. Although the story of 42nd Street is charming and incredibly enjoyable, the real draw of the show is the sheer talent when it comes to the huge, spectacular dance numbers that every single patron is definitely going to enjoy.
2. Sheena Easton
All of the cast are incredible and give tremendous performances throughout, however, it is Sheena Easton’s West End debut as Dorothy Brock that really steals the show.
Dorothy is a brash, miserable diva who is determined to get her way at all times – refusing to even audition for her role as leading lady in the musical – and Grammy-winning Easton performs this role with absolute perfection.
With just the right amount of humour added to Easton’s performance, the established singer had the audience eating out of the palm of her hand throughout the 2 hour 40 minute run time, and rightly so.
3. It’s Feel-Good
As well as the incredible dancing and brilliant characters, 42nd Street is light-hearted with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, which guarantee that the audience will be leaving the theatre in a pretty good mood.
Although the show might not have the emotional depth of some other shows in the West End, it excels in what it has set out to do – entertain.
4. It’s A Timeless Classic
As we said, the story of Peggy Sawyer and Dorothy Brock is one that has been around for more than 80 years, but the tale shows no signs of ageing and is just as enjoyable to watch now, in 2017, as it would have been in the 1930s.
To be quite honest, there isn’t anything not to like about the show as it embodies every aspect of showmanship and spectacle that we have come to expect in musical theatre.
5. It Has The Royal Seal Of Approval
If all of this wasn’t enough to convince you then perhaps the Duchess of Cambridge’s enjoyment of the show will be sway you.
Yes, Kate Middleton was the guest of honour at 42nd Street’s opening night in her role as Royal Patron of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices, with the show helping to raise money to build a hospice, to be called The Nook, in Norfolk.
Kate became the Royal Patron for the charity in 2012 and when we spotted her sitting in the royal box during the show she looked like she was hugely enjoying the performance.
Grinning from ear-to-ear throughout, Kate was later gifted her very own pair of tap dancing shows from the show’s cast and creative team – and she looked chuffed to bits.
In short, 42nd Street is officially good enough for royalty, which we imagine to be no mean feat.