’42ND STREET’: The cast. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

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Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes
Original direction & dances by Gower Champion
Musical staging & new choreography by Randy Skinner
Directed by Mark Bramble
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Catherine Street, London, UK, WC2 B5JF


By David NouNou

Annually StageZine comes to London to review shows for our American readers, and 42nd Street was this year’s list topper. Having first seen it on Broadway in 1980 and then the 2001 revival, I’ve always been dazzled by it. This show has always floored me for its opulence and grandeur. When most shows today are chintzy, tacky and try to save money by cutting back on casts, scenery, costumes, I am overjoyed to say that 42nd Street has retained all its glamour, splendor and opulence. It is still an extravaganza and an antidote for all depressed Americans in the depressed state of America. 42nd Street fought the financial crisis of the 1930s, this 42nd Street fights the current depression and malaise going around in the US and UK.

Based on the 1933 Warner Brothers film, the story is familiar to everyone; a new Broadway show is opening in the depression, leading lady breaks leg, show will close, last minute replacement, picking the ingenue from the chorus line and she becomes an overnight star. The motto being the show must go on.

In 1980 the credit on direction and choreography went to Gower Champion. In 2017 the credit has to be given to Randy Skinner, an under appreciated choreographer on Broadway. He is the true successor to Gower Champion. Mr. Skinner has the flair and razzle dazzle  that Mr. Champion possessed. He should have won the Tony in 2001 for the revival of 42nd Street, but unfortunately was torpedoed by The Producers which won almost everything that year.

The show really belongs to Mr. Skinner and his ensemble of dancers. Aside from A Chorus Line, to me 42nd Street has always been the type of show that anyone who ever dreamed of being a dancer and being in a musical either on Broadway or the West End is the perfect vehicle to be in. The show is not about the leads; it’s about the toiling of the chorus that make the leads look good. The synchronization of the dance numbers are perfection, and the dancers here are a grand unit that functions as one. They are the real stars.

Clare Halse, as the ingenue Peggy Sawyer who is plucked from the chorus to replace the star, is a dancing marvel. Her tap dancing matches the tightness of Ann Miller. Stuart Neal is absolutely charming as the dancing and singing Billy Lawlor, who discovers Peggy and is smitten by her. Ms. Halse and Mr. Neal have the right chemistry and are a delight to watch.

As the bitchy leading lady diva Dorothy Brock, former pop singer Sheena Easton brings a tartness to the role and still possesses a lovely voice. Tom Lister is admirable as Julian Marsh, the director.

Fans of 42nd Street will still marvel at the wonderful score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. Besides Mr. Skinner’s choreography, one is also dazzled by Roger Kirk’s gorgeous costumes and Peter Mumford’s lighting. To say that one is overwhelmed by the magnificence of 42nd Street would be an understatement. There are a few American musical revivals currently running on the West End; however, for my money I would recommend to rush to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and be dazzled by the splendors of 42nd Street.



Edited by Scott Harrah
Published June 22, 2017
Reviewed at June 21, 2017 performance in London

’42nd Street’ U.K. Official Trailer

’42ND STREET’: Clare Halse & company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: Claire Halse & company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg


’42ND STREET’: Claire Halse & company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: Clare Halse & company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: Clare Halse & company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenberg

’42ND STREET’: The company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: The company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: Stuart Neal & company. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: Bruce Montague & Sheena Easton. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42ND STREET’: Claire Halse & Stuart Neal. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

42nd Street

’42ND STREET’: (left to right) Clare Rickard, Ella Martine, Jasna Ivir, Clare Halse, Emma Caffrey. Photo: cBrinkhoff-Moegenburg

’42nd Street’ U.K. Official Trailer

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