I’ve recently begun watching the hit US series Smash, the musical theatre-based show which follows a string of characters through the development of a new Broadway musical. The character of Ivy Lynn (played by actress Megan Hilty) is one who, after ten years in the chorus line, wins the leading role in the Marilyn Monroe musical. While Ivy’s story is just one of many explored in the show, the rise from ensemble member to star is the tale which forms the core of the classic Broadway musical 42nd Street. It charts the path of Peggy Sawyer, a small town girl from Pennsylvania who, after accidentally injuring the star of Broadway’s newest musical Pretty Lady, is offered the chance to step up from the chorus line into the leading lady spotlight.
The 1980 musical has won Tony Award’s for Best Musical (1980) and Best Revival (2001) and has played on Broadway and in the West End, as well as numerous national and international tours. Now, 42nd Street embarks on a UK tour from 1st June 2012, led by West End stars Dave Willetts and Marti Webb in the respective roles of Julian Marsh and Dorothy Brock.
Dave Willetts is a musical theatre veteran, having played leading roles in West End shows such as The Phantom of the Opera, Sunset Boulevard and Les Miserables and touring productions of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and South Pacific. Marti Webb is a musical theatre actress with a long list of credits to her name, such as Blood Brothers, Evita, Tell Me On A Sunday, Cats and Oklahoma, among many others. Now they are set to start this new adventure together, taking this timeless tap-dancing musical extravaganza to twenty-three UK venues throughout 2012. The production will feature costumes and sets from the 2001 Broadway revival with audiences treated to all the beloved songs of Al Dubin and Harry Warren’s original score, including the likes of ‘We’re In The Money’, ‘Keep Young And Beautiful’ and of course the title track ‘42nd Street’ in, “a journey to musical comedy heaven with breathtaking routines and glorious choreography”.
The UK tour is presented by Martin Dodd for UK Productions, the production company behind previous successful tours like Beauty and the Beast, South Pacific and Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. Mark Bramble, the award-winning director and 42nd Street book writer (co-written with Michael Stewart), will direct the tour, with choreography by Graeme Henderson and musical supervision by Gareth Williams.
The 42nd Street tour kicks off at the Rhyl Pavilion on 1st June 2012 for two dates before continuing on to visit Oxford, Sheffield, Belfast, Glasgow, Woking, Birmingham, Blackpool, Plymouth, Eastbourne, Bradford, Cardiff, Southampton, Norwich, Bromley, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Aylesbury, ending its journey at the Theatre Royal in Nottingham (27th Nov-1st Dec 2012).
If you’re a fan of the ‘old-school’ musical, then 42nd Street is a show that is sure to be right up your alley. Billed as, “the greatest tap dancing musical of all time”, it promises to give audiences a few hours of high-quality entertainment. When it first made its debut in 1980, the now-iconic line, “you’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star” could just as easily have been referring to the show itself, as well as chorus girl Peggy Sawyer – 32 years later and I think 42nd Street has most definitely proved itself to be a star that continues to shine brightly.
By Julie Robinson (@missjulie25)