Showbiz musical 42nd Street will bring the irrepressible spirit of Broadway to Milton Keynes Theatre this month.
The song-and-dance spectacular has been revamped as a dazzling new touring production, following the glittering success of its latest West End revival. It is time for theatregoers nationwide to experience the joyous showtunes and see (and hear) those breathtaking tap-dancing routines.
42nd Street tells the story of a small-town girl trying to make it on Broadway and a big-time theatre director attempting to mount a musical extravaganza during the Great Depression. Cue backstage drama, romantic intrigue and light-hearted comedy moments.
Auditions for 1933’s newest show, Pretty Lady, are almost over when Peggy Sawyer, a talented young performer with stars in her eyes, arrives in New York City. She charms legendary director Julian Marsh and lands a spot in the chorus line. Then the leading lady gets injured, which puts the show in jeopardy, and Peggy might just have the shot at stardom she has always dreamed of.
42nd Street is a nostalgic celebration of the art of musical theatre. It is based on a 1932 novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent 1933 Hollywood film adaptation (in which Ginger Rogers made her breakthrough appearance). Despite being a backstage story about a Broadway show, it was not realised as a stage musical until almost fifty years after the film’s release.
The stage musical opened on Broadway in 1980 and in London’s West End in 1984. It won Tony and Olivier awards and became a long-running hit on both sides of the Atlantic. The most recent West End revival ran at Theatre Royal Drury Lane between April 2017 and January 2019.
This new production is directed by Jonathan Church (Singin’ in the Rain, The Drifters Girl). The choreography is by Bill Deamer and designs are by Rob Jones. The cast lined up for performances in Milton Keynes includes Samantha Womack (as diva Dorothy Brock), Michael Praed (as director Julian Marsh) and Faye Tozer (as writer Maggie Jones).
Toe-tapping songs to look forward to include ‘42nd Street’, ‘We’re In The Money’, ‘Lullaby Of Broadway’, ‘Shuffle Off To Buffalo’ and ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’. I can already hear the beat of dancing feet!
Running time: Approximately 2 hours 35 minutes, including an interval.
*Production photography by Johan Persson.
This preview is also featured on Total MK.
Update 29 August 2023: Read my review of 42nd Street at Milton Keynes Theatre.
Georgina Butler is an editor, a dance writer and a ballet teacher.