42nd Street

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

29/09/2011 - 15/10/2011

Production Details

Broadway’s song and dance extravaganza, 42nd Street, promises toe-tapping excitement as it struts into St James Theatre, Wellington on 29 September for a strictly limited season.
This spectacular stage classic features dazzling set, costumes and choreography direct from the latest Tony Award winning Broadway revival. Presented by Wellington Musical Theatre, with a full live orchestra and an all-singing, all-dancing New Zealand cast, 42nd Street will make you want to get up and dance!

Those memories will come flooding back with its hit show tunes including You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,Dames,Only Have Eyes for You,Lullaby of Broadway,Shuffle Off to Buffalo,Forty-Second StreetandWe’re In the Money– lucky for many Kiwis as Lotto’s original jingle!
42nd Street is a big, bold musical set in 1933 that celebrates the stuff that dreams are made of. It’s a story of hard work, being in the right place at the right time, talent and love – the timeless, inspiring tale of small town Peggy Sawyer’s rise from chorus girl to Broadway star.
Don’t miss this high-kicking, high-energy musical masterpiece priced for all the family to enjoy.

St James Theatre, Wellington 
September 29 – October 15 2011
Tickets available at Ticketek

Wardrobe Manager – Terry Guillemot 
Stage Manager – Keri Mills 
Executive Producer – Michael Highsted 
Sales, Marketing, Photography and Graphic Design – Adam Blackwell / First Star Communications   

A night of sparkle and old Broadway glamour

Review by Christine Brooks 30th Sep 2011

42nd Street begins with the curtain partially rising, pausing to reveal many impressively synchronised tap dancing legs and feet, before lifting up all the way to reveal the rest of the beautifully costumed chorus during the opening number, Audition.

This is perhaps a good metaphor for the show: Focus on the dancing and the spectacle. Don’t expect too much that will touch your heart or your head. There is little in the way of character development or plot (particularly from the show within a show, Pretty Lady). Instead, keep your eyes on the spangle and sparkle, get ready for more sequins than you can shake a stick at, sit back and let the visual spectacular unfold before you. 

The strength of the Wellington Musical Theatre’s production of 42nd Street is its production values. The sets are beautiful, the lighting design effective, and the costumes… oh, the costumes. I see from the programme that set and costumes have been supplied by a UK firm and it becomes clear where the bulk of the production dollars have been directed (along with the hire of the beautiful St James Theatre).

It is perhaps the high quality of the production values that leads to equally high expectations of the performers, which are delivered on to varying degrees. From what I know of Wellington Musical Theatre, the cast is largely unpaid –and perhaps this makes the enthusiasm and commitment of the ensemble cast, particularly the chorus, all the more worthwhile. The ensemble work is a highlight, with well-choreographed pieces, in combination with the excellent sets and costumes, a pleasure to watch. Particular highlights are We’re in the Money, and the title number, 42nd Street. 

The performance of the principals is variable. There is some strong individual work. Courtenay Hale is the right mixture of pep and chutzpah as Broadway hopeful Peggy Sawyer and her dancing is full of unadulterated glee. Jeff Kingsford Brown is convincing as strung-out Broadway director Julian Marsh. Stephanie Gartrell lends her warm jazzy vocals to her numbers adding some much-needed depth in the singing department.

The remaining principals are a mixed bag. In general, the acting can be wooden at times. The American accents can be a bit hit and miss. The singing is likewise mixed, with some good and others struggling to nail it (perhaps exacerbated by some technical problems with the microphones that made some sound a little thinner and raspier than they really are).

The dancing seems the most consistently strong element throughout and kudos should go to the choreographers Belinda Harvey and Rochelle Rose (who also does a good job playing Anytime Annie).

One of the negatives (or positives, depending on which way you fall) of 42nd Street is that the script is largely lacking in emotional depth. However, the opportunities that do exist are squandered. I am thinking particularly of the solo song, I Only Have Eyes For You’, by the ageing diva Dorothy Brock played by Mary-Louise Thomas, and the final scene between Peggy Sawyer and Dorothy Brock. Both scenes have the potential to be touching and to help the audience to care more about the story and the characters, beyond just enjoying the visual feast, yet neither scene achieves this. If the performers could access emotionally and connect with the audience, it would really improve the impact of the show. 

If you are looking for a night of sparkle and old Broadway glamour, look no further than Wellington Musical Theatre’s production of 42nd Street. Just don’t expect it to stay with you much after the lights on Broadway have been turned off for the night.  
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