The 42nd Street Experience

Terry Wills watches a host of future musical stars.

The curtain slowly rises. 120 of the most talented youthful Stage Experience stars of the future are seen rehearsing their twelfth New Alexandra Theatre production.

They started in 2003 with Guys and Dolls and since then have incorporated many favourite shows such as Fame, West Side Story, Annie, Oliver and Footloose. Enter their latest, 42nd Street, and one that I consider possibly their best-ever offering.

It’s a tap dancing, back to the 1930s, spectacular telling of the trials and tribulations facing a director attempting to prove that his latest show will be the smash hit he craves. Leading Lady Dorothy Brock is an egotistical character who makes it plain that what she says cannot be questioned.

Young talented Peggy Spencer, after missing a chance to audition, eventually manages to join the other ‘stars in their eyes’ hopefuls but after a series of clashes with Brock ironically finds herself the only suitable that can save the show following an accident.

From Overture to Finale the songs, accompanied by brilliant tap dancing are a sheer delight. We’re in the Money, You’re Getting to be a Habit With Me, Lullaby of Broadway and the show-stopping title numb er, all brought a wonderful audience response.

The costumes and sets, previously seen in West End and Broadway productions, are breathtaking and all added to the enjoyment summed up the enthusiastic audience applause.
The leading role of Peggy Spencer is played by Caprice Lane, Dorothy Brock by Mollie-Ann Riley, plus Matt Pidgeon (Broadway’s leading musical juvenile) is the current World Tap Dancing Champion and it’s not difficult to see why when he performs brilliantly on a huge American Dollar playing the part of Billy Lawlor.

Astonishingly, this production had only been rehearsing for two weeks before the opening night, with every available hour learning lines and perfecting dance numbers. I doubt if any amateur company could have bettered this and equally, it would be surprising if many of the talented youngsters failed to break into professional show years to come.

For those who appreciate a good old-fashioned musical 42nd Street is a show not to be missed. Great song and dance routines, a splendid orchestra and wonderful sets. What more could any lover of the stage ask?

42nd Street plays the New Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham until Satuday 15th August. Tickets from