This Tuesday we were invited to meet those dancing feet at a rehearsal for the eagerly anticipated revival of 42nd Street. Promised to be Broadways biggest show hitting London’s biggest stage (The Theatre Royal Drury lane) we were NOT disappointed by our taste of what’s to come.
There has been much talk of the scale of the show and it is not exaggerated, it is a BIG show. In the Malcolm Ryan Studios, Wimbledon (a tad out of the way from the plays soon to be West End home) it became apparent due to the need of a larger dance space for rehearsals alone. We were greeted by Mark Bramble (Director/Co-Author) and the majority of the large ensemble cast of almost 50 members (ironically one member was missing due to a broken ankle) and it was a sight to behold. Bramble proudly explains that this is the largest cast ever to perform 42nd Street.
Bramble explains that the vision behind this revival is to do “an MGM colour version of 42nd Street” bringing the movie out of black and white and into Technicolor. He wants it to be a celebration of colour and scenery and costumes with more sequins, jewels and beads then we have ever seen! Bramble goes on to introduce previews of several songs from the show, which we were to be treated to, starting with ‘Keep Young and Beautiful’. Performed by the comedy duo of Maggie Jones (Jasna Ivir) and Bert Barry (Christopher Howell) who instantly created a fun, lively atmosphere with the spectacle of the ensemble troop dancing in the background. The sound of their enchanting tapping echoed throughout the space.
Moving swiftly on, we were given a brief explanation of the title song, ‘42nd Street’ and an introduction to the play’s male lead Julian Marsh played by Emmerdales’ Tom Lister who incredibly holds his own even with the large ensemble cast dancing behind him. Lister was prominent during this dress rehearsal performing in several dance and song numbers including the incredible ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ which really emphasised the power of the cast as the whole ensemble joined in to sing as well as dance in this number.
We also had a sneak peek of the much enthused Sheena Easton who rose to fame with in the 80’s with such hits as “Modern Girl” and “9 to 5” playing Dorothy Brock. This is to be her West End debut and she did not disappoint with her song ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, belting out the final notes of the song, she had us on our feet in applause.
Next up was, ‘With Plenty of Money and You’. Another dance number displaying the skill of the huge ensemble cast. Bramble revealed that when he originally worked on the show in a previous West End outing they found it difficult to find enough tap dancers at the standard they needed, scouring the country’s dance and theatre schools for talent. Bramble was thrilled to announce that in the modern day it was quite easy to attain a quality team of dancers.
Overall the rehearsal for 42nd Street was a fabulous insight into what will be a delightful visual spectacle of a show when it hits Theatre Royal Drury Lane at the end of March. We wish them all the best of luck, and thank the immensely talented cast and crew for such a wonderful treat (and we don’t just mean the fabulous cupcakes)!
Here are more photos from the day, get ready to meet those dancing feet as 42nd Street opens 20th of March.
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