The Mark Bramble-directed 42nd Street is one hell of a show and it’s razzle dazzle all the way as Bonnie Langford joins the cast at Theatre Royal Drury Lane as Dorothy Brock for the final months, lending it even more sparkle, showbiz glamour and red-headed sauciness. Langford plays a demanding star joining the cast of fictional new Broadway musical ‘Pretty Lady’ directed by the jaded Julian Marsh (Tom Lister), while Clare Halse is phenomenal as her younger rival Peggy Sawyer, the ingénue bound to take the lead when Dorothy is forced to bow out due to injury.
Halse’s incredible tap dancing routines and charm are matched by Langford’s impressive physique and vocals; a perfect double act showcasing the talents both have to offer at different phases of their careers. While Langford’s star quality is the stuff of legend due to roles in Gypsy, Chicago and the original London production of Cats, Sawyer is a blossoming starlet thrilling to see in what can only be described as a flawless production of this American classic, presented by Michael Linnit and Michael Grade with Gate Ventures.
Bramble (whose other hit shows include Barnum, Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers) has also co-authored the book with Michael Stewart (based on the original novel by Bradford Ropes), though it’s fair to say the plot takes a back seat to the music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin. 42nd Street is packed full of well loved numbers such as “Keep Young and Beautiful”, “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “We’re in the Money”, all of which come to life with orchestrations by Philip J. Lang and sensational new routines and staging choreographed by Randy Skinner who was dance assistant on the original 1980 production. With an ensemble of over 50, expect ravishing dance routines in sequinned costumes, not to mention plenty of high kicks. The “Keep Young and Beautiful” synchronised choreography is downright breathtaking.
Lister, who hails from Legally Blonde, sends shivers down the old spine with his rendition of “42nd Street” and we all melt into the razzmatazz of a high impact finale. In fact, the last few scenes of this show are each so thigh-slappingly, toe-tappingly good that you can easily mistake the show-stopper prematurely. When we were treated to a special double finale dance-off between Langford and Halse at this week’s gala night to celebrate the newcomer, I wasn’t in the least surprised by the rapturous standing ovation and enthusiastic cheers.
This London revival more than lives up to its fine prestige, Bramble having directed the acclaimed 2001 Tony-award winning Broadway production. Opening in London in April 2017 in the presence of HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, the show went on to receive countless five star reviews and awards including four WhatsOnStage 2018 accolades; Best Musical Revival, Best Choreography, Best Set Design and Best Costume Design. A musical that puts a smile on your face and encourages a new generation to head to theatre school, if you’re a fan of old-school blockbuster musicals, make sure you catch it before it closes in January when an extensive refurbishment of the magnificent Theatre Royal Drury Lane will commence.
42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine St, London until 5th January 2019. WC2B 5JF. For more information and tickets please visit the website.