Those Dancing Feet: 42ND STREET at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

I used to be obsessed with the original cast recording of 42nd Street many years ago, so the news of the revival hit me with a wave of nostalgic excitement; I still even have a vinyl record of the album and listen to it regularly to lift my spirits. But there was something about this revival that didn't fill me with that passion or love for the show and I'm kind of alone in thinking it.

It's very rare that I have such a drastically differing opinion on a show when it's such a raving success, but this is an exception to the rule. For me, there is something about this revival that completely lacks sincerity and intimacy. Perhaps that isn't helped by the fact that it's being performed on London's biggest West End stage with one of the biggest casts in recent history - almost 60 in total - but the fact that this show has gone for wow factor instead of emotional power doesn't help every element of the piece. Yes, in numbers like We're In The Money. having the full ensemble on such a massive stage is mesmerising, but in personal solo numbers like Boulevard of Broken Dreams, the large stage makes Sheena Easton look like an ant and makes the number unfortunately lose all sincerity.

The ensemble of ladies in 42nd Street

I actually don't think the show is very exciting as a whole either. It is in the piece's style, so I'm not saying it's badly made at all, but shows like this one that really lack emotional depth or any sort of great shape throughout the piece leave me feeling dissatisfied. The storylines aren't very exciting for me, the big numbers get boring after a while and the big choreography is fun, but there's only so much of it that I can stomach for two and a half hours before it becomes much more predictable than hair-raising. It's not a bad show in that sense by any means and is probably exactly what about 95% of theatregoers are looking for, but I'm in that scarce 5% for sure.

The cast are fine, but I wouldn't call any of them mindblowing either. Sheena Easton stars as Dorothy Brock in a performance that I have heard many people call countless good things, but I actually found it hard to watch. I thought her acting performance felt like a pantomime dame act at times and while she's famous for her recording artist history, I found her vocals to be sub-par as well. I suppose I'm not someone of the generation who could appreciate her for the star that she is (I had no idea who she even was until I Googled her after the show), but her performance fell flat for me as well. The rest of the cast like Tom Lister as Julian were pretty good though, with Clare Halse as Peggy Sawyer being a total standout to me - her talents were endless and they were the one thing that left my hairs on ends consistently throughout the show.

The ladies ensemble in 42nd Street

The production value of this show cannot be faulted either. With such a huge stage, designing and producing set for it is a huge feat and Douglas W. Schmidt does a perfect job with it. Yes, sometimes the stage does feel rather bare, but it's an impressive success of his overall. The same has to be said for Roger Kirk who had to design costumes for all 60 or so of the cast members, again that's a mammoth task to have completed successfully. Many of the costumes are full on glitz and glamour as well, which were stunning when being moved about during dance sequences. Randy Skinner's choreography is another one of those huge tasks, executed with great talent, and same should be said for Peter Mumford's wonderful lighting design.

At the end of the day, 42nd Street is not my favourite show that's come into the West End recently and I won't be rushing back to see it. But what I can say is that I am pretty alone in this reasoning: every single person that I know who has seen this show has raved about it no end, so don't let my opinion taint your decision. No matter what I think of it, it's an incredibly huge piece of theatre with an excellent set of production values and it cannot be faulted for that.

The entire company of 42nd Street

42nd Street continues booking at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane through October 14th with tickets available here. If you want to see my friend Rukaya's vlog of our trip to see the show and our review, you can also watch that right here.

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