It may not have the high profile or the budget of some of the shows that have been wowing the Empire crowds recently, but the current tour of 42nd Street really holds its own to charm and inspire in equal measure.
Packed with Broadway classics and faithful to the Busby Berkley style of the 1933 film, you’d surely have a heart of stone not to enjoy the story of Peggy Sawyer, the smalltown girl with simple dreams of making it as a hoofer on the chorus line. Fate, of course, has a little bit more in store, and soon, she’s the only one who can on take the lead role of a new show, and with it, the fate and fortune of the whole company.
Think showgirls whose seated dance routines are reflected to the audience from a hanging mirror; painted backdrops and curtains; songs about dames; and grinning young gents tapping across the stage in tops and ludicrously sequinned tails. The show is simply a beautiful, old school treat.
The paper-thin plot is too cute to argue with, and Jessica Punch is adorable as Peggy, with Marti Webb’s jaded, wrung out Dorothy Wrock a great contrast. Musical theatre stalwart Dave Willetts as the stressed-out producer of show-within-a-show Pretty Lady, and a fine comic turn from Carol Ball as Maggie Jones, add weight to an understatedly impressive cast.
The songs, including Keep Young and Beautiful, Lullaby of Broadway and 42nd Street itself, are timeless. But it’s the spectacular tap dance routines that steal the show.
42nd Street is on at the Liverpool Empire until tomorrow (November 17). For tickets and information, visit their website.