Glamour, glitz, and jazz hands! 42nd Street at Sadler’s Wells Theatre takes you on a fantastically colourful journey through every stagey person’s dreams: being that lucky one-in-a-million talent to have a big Broadway breakthrough.

Credit: Johan Persson

The story is certainly not a new one, given that the book and original movie adaptation are from the 1930s, but it remains refreshingly relatable. Set in 1933, auditions for the newest, hottest Broadway show are at full speed, when youngster Peggy Sawyer gets sucked in by the Lullaby of Broadway. From being cast as a last-resort chorus girl to becoming a leading lady, her journey and struggles have the audience rooting for her the entire show.

Despite some unnecessary complications on the way which do nothing the progress the storyline, 42nd Street is a diverting musical experience. Especially with the setbacks the entertainment world had to face during the pandemic, I feel that part of the story still hits home.

Credit: Johan Persson

The show is carried by the lively, naïve, and incredibly positive way Nicole-Lily Baisden approaches Peggy Sawyer. She can dance, she can sing, and she is absolutely gorgeous – a speck of glitter rather than a speck of dust on the stage. I enjoyed the vocal range she displays as well as her acting. The same goes for Sam Lips, who gives us one of Broadway’s better tenors, Billi Lawlor. In an overall strong ensemble, my eyes were also drawn to Alyn Hawke and Sarah-Marie Maxwell. West End royalty Ruthie Henshall left me wanting a bit more in the acting department, especially towards the finale. However, her voice really moved me. The melancholy ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ gave me goosebumps, and I also loved her ‘Shadow Waltz’. Adam Garcia’s take on director Julian Marsh feels a bit stiff and as if he never quite makes up his mind in which manner he wants to play him. But when he started singing the ‘Lullaby of Broadway’, I forgot and forgave what I didn’t like before. It is definitely worth hearing.

Let’s face it: although I loved the songs, nobody was there for the dames. It is those dancing feet that draw the audience in and keep everyone at the edge of their seats, happily tapping away with their fingers or even toes. 42nd Street is a show which quintessentially combines the arts, but Bill Deamer’s choreography elevates it to the next level. From the pleasing opening overture that gives the first glimpse of what is to come, with the grand joy of all the glitz of ‘With Plenty of Money and You’ and ‘Shuffle off to Buffalo’, nothing feels out of line or overwhelming. And the costumes – everything about this show was just so beautiful! The ‘Pretty Lady’ curtain and the video effects during the overture deserve a special mention, and so does the set. With touring productions, it is always a bit hit-and-miss for me. Compromises have to be made more often than not. But again, Robert Jones comes to the rescue with a simplistic metalwork set and just the right amount of art deco that made me smile.

Credit: Johan Persson

To be honest, this show does not need a lavish set or much additional extravaganza. It has a fantastic cast, great choreography, and a timeless plot. This production of 42nd Street is a flashy, fun, and fantastic homage to everything Broadway – and theatre in general – can be.   

Rating: 5 out of 5.

42nd Street is on at Sadler’s Wells until the 2nd of July – find tickets and more info here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, High Tide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE
    Drum roll please…(Cue a literal drum rolling across the stage.) The Lyric pantomime is one of traditions with the return of many well-loved jokes and skits. Costumes and sets are all made at the Lyric itself by Good Teeth, with set pieces being reused year on year. This year Cinderella gets the Hammersmith makeover, with some success. The costuming is fun and vibrant, with the ugly stepsisters’ equine pyjamas and hoop-skirted ball gowns giving all the wrong kinds of extra you need for those characters. Cinderella’s on stage dress transformation is magical and really well-timed. The Dame, Lady Jelly-Bottom’s, outfits … More CINDERELLA – REVIEW – LYRIC HAMMERSMITH

Leave a Reply