Theatre Review

Theatre Review: 42nd Street @ Drury Lane Theatre Royal


3.5/5 Stars

It’s being hailed as Broadway’s biggest show on the West End’s biggest stage and I went into watching it knowing absolutely nothing. But I was excited. I went with a friend who was already a fan and when we entered the beautiful theatre 30 minutes before the show was set to start you could feel the anticipation in the air. Taking our seats in the dress circle I was ready to be whisked away for 2 and a half hours of magic. But, to be honest, it wasn’t great.

Don’t get me wrong, the production was through the roof. The massive cast of 55 were all phenomenal at tap dancing, the best of the best. The costumes were glitzy and dazzling and beautiful. The set was magnificent. If I was reviewing this show based purely on all of that it would have 5 stars and a standing ovation. But I’m not. And all of that didn’t totally cover up the predictable and somewhat boring storyline. It’s just the beautifully intricate icing on what is actually a dry, crumbly and over-cooked cake. Take the songs away, take the dancing away and you have nothing more than a simple ‘small town girl makes it big and finds love along the way’ story that has been done countless times before in much more interesting ways.

Now, I’m not faulting the actor’s performances. I was pleasantly surprised to see that most of them could actually act pretty damn well. The excellent little Clare Halse shined in her performance of Peggy Sawyer, bringing a vulnerability to the stage that was really beautiful to see. Her tap dancing awed me and she matched up to the far more formidable Grammy award winning Sheena Easton fantastically. Tom Lister, of Emmerdale fame, was excellent in his performance as Pretty Lady’s director, Julien Marsh, and wow who knew a soap opera star could sing like that? Amazing!

But despite all of this I found my attention wandering and when asked by my friend in the interval what I thought of it, all I could summon up was a simple “it’s okay”. I didn’t root for any of the characters particularly so while I did enjoy the performances given I didn’t really care about any of them. Thankfully, the second act improved and I enjoyed it a little more than the first. But I didn’t walk out of the theatre singing along to any of the songs, nor did I walk out excited to rush back and watch it again.

I enjoyed the show but it’s not one of my favourites and I find myself wishing I’d ventured down to the Vaudeville theatre to watch Stepping Out, the other tap show currently on the West End – which I can only hope has a more interesting and compelling storyline. If you do want to go and see a show that will offer a unique, interesting and meaty story, don’t see this. But then, that’s not what this show is about. It’s a musical about a musical, take the music away and you have nothing. Keep the music in and you have an easy, fun night out for you and your girlfriends.

Prices start from £17.25


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