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42nd STREET REVIEW: INNOCENT AND SWEET?



The revival of the classic Broadway tale has been running at the West End’s largest theatre for over a year now, and it’s more than fair to say that the whole cast have very much found their feet. 

The show is proof that you really don’t need much of an innovative plot to have fun at a show. And a spectacle of a show it is: the dancing and the musical numbers prove themselves to be an equal amount of infectious. In fact, it’s so feel-good (without being cheesy), that you can’t help but smile alongside the ensemble and tap your feet from time to time. Clare Halse is a stand-out as Peggy Sawyer— she is in equal parts believable, charismatic and sometimes awkward, making her character a lead that you can both aspire and relate to on many levels. 

Home to the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, the largest theatre in the West End, one can tell that the production has very much kept the audience at the forefront of the production. Whilst I was front row for the Wednesday matinee, I am very much willing to see it again from further afield as the sets really were made with the very back seats in mind. The set design lends itself seamlessly to the intricacies of the movement of the dancing and singing, so much so that it becomes a prominent theme itself. You won’t be missing anything even if you’re at  the back of the balcony, that’s for sure.

A more uncomfortable reaction comes from the old-Broadway-director-kissing-impressionable-ingenue subplot that comes in the second half.  It’s hard to make out what the intentions are behind this. In one sense, Peggy has truly noted that she has become sexually awakened and perhaps even autonomous: her continual rejection of Billy exemplifies this. In another, she is still the impressionable Broadway girl, barely an adult in terms of her lack of experience (especially in comparison to her fellow cast, who jeer at this before ‘Go Into Your Dance’). Mr. Marsh's intentions are all the more unclear: at one stage, he seems to reject her overfamiliarity. However, by the ending, he cruelly reveals that he has taken her ‘lucky yellow scarf’ by taking it out of his pocket and caressing it forcefully. Then, following her to the opening night’s after party, he aggressively walks into her direction offstage. It’s a dark and poignantly suggestive ending to an otherwise feel-good musical, and it’s the kind of controversy that I, quite frankly, relish in enjoying as a part of my theatrical experience. After all, this is 1930’s Broadway: it’s not all jazz-hands and pirouettes.  


Still, it was refreshing to see that one can have tremendous fun whilst still being alluded to some of the darker themes in 1930's Broadway. These themes are not distracting enough to detract from the feel-goodness that exudes from the tap-dancing and smiles, so you still come away having experienced some lighthearted fun for the last three hours. After all, who doesn't want an infectious Wednesday afternoon in London?


Love,


Chloe
chloe | 20 | nottingham

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About the Author

Chloe Jade is an undergraduate student at the University of Nottingham reading English and Philosophy. Post-graduation, her ambition is to become a journalist. In order to read, write and share as much as she wants, she decided to create this blog so that she could explore her wider interests and experiences.