Bonnie Langford makes her long-awaited musical theatre return in this tale of financial depression, showbusiness and the uncertainty that comes with both.
42nd Street has seen many stars in the role of Dorothy Brock, a double threat (her dancing ain’t up to much) and an actress who has committed the cardinal sin of getting too old with Lulu, Sheila Easton as well as understudy Steph Parry who became a star when she covered the role of Donna in Mamma Mia around the corner on Aldwych. In Bonnie Langford, the production has the gravitas of a talented musical theatre performer and a star name thanks to her surprisingly good turn in Eastenders. Eastenders has seen many musical theatre actors come and go, some with more success and popularity than others.
The production isn’t really about Brock, it is a love story to Broadway, its survival in adversity and the rising stars, like Peggy Sawyer played by an incredible talent Clare Halse, who finds herself starring the chorus alongside Brock. Cue many circumstances including a misunderstanding about Sawyer’s relationship with Brock’s secret lover and a broken leg Peggy finds herself in the lead in Pretty Lady. Pretty Lady, as a musical within a musical in nonsensical. It doesn’t really seem to have a narrative yet director Julian (Tom Lister) has staked his reputation on this as limited funds are offered by Abner Dillon (Bruce Montague) to ensure his Dorothy gets a leading role, even if she isn’t really suitable.
The lack of a strong narrative in 42nd Street doesn’t really matter; the audience isn’t here for grit, they are here for sparkles in the form of Roger Kirk’s costume (which flatter and show off the casts assets) and Douglas W Schmidt’s set design, chorus lines of perfection from Randy Skinner’s choreography and some incredibly skilled tap dancing and to forget their troubles whilst considering if they can afford tap lessons. There are some elements that seem uncomfortable in this ‘Me too’ era but it ultimately has a lot of heart, skill from its talented cast and warmth in this character lead production.
Tickets are available here https://42ndstreetmusical.co.uk/ticket-information/ the production is on until January 2019