REVIEW: 42nd Street at Curve, Leicester (2023)

press night tickets for review


42nd street full cast finale at curve theatre press night photo by Alex Joy

In the heart of little old Leicester, at Curve Theatre, you’ll find the incredible cast of 42nd Street performing a wonderful production filled with shimmering lights, stunning vocals and dazzling costumes… and if you’ve got a little time, I’d like to take you there and tell you my thoughts about it.

“42nd Street” is a good old-fashioned musical with oldy-worldly belting tunes. It features love interests with twists and turns, plenty of showbiz all whilst creating a Broadway show at the very centre of it all!

Choreographed and designed by Olivier Award winners Bill Deamer and Rob Jones, 42nd Street literally does not put a foot wrong. It has behind the scenes drama. It has amazing choreography. The musical score is wonderful. There’s just so much to love about this production, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be desperate to tap dance along during the show and on the way out, you’ll be leaving a star singing those songs (especially We’re in the Money!).

42nd street full cast finale at curve theatre press night photo by Alex Joy

The show is set primarily in New York back in 1933 with auditions happening for highly acclaimed director Julian Marsh’s (Adam Garcia) newest production “Pretty Lady”. Hopeful Peggy Sawyer (Nicole-Lily Baisden) arrives from Allentown to audition, but couldn’t pluck up the courage to walk through those doors so misses out on the entire thing. She piques the interest of Tenor Billy Lawlor (Sam Lips) who encourages her to try singing and dancing anyway (which still doesn’t get her a pass!).

It really is the definition of musical theatre, and the casting of 42nd Street was nothing short of perfection. Les Dennis was a loveable and comical side kick for Maggie (Josefina-Gabrielle) and I loved their dynamics together. I especially enjoyed their pairing and the way they seemed to gel so naturally.

Ruthie Henshall as Dorothy Brock is a fantastic casting who really nailed the transition between vengeance and a later softening. A prima donna past her prime, she brings comedic value to her role and is that good that she convinces you that she isn’t! She can certainly move and she proves why she is such a legend in the theatre world as a triple threat.

Adam Garcia brought an element of warmth and softness to the originally tough and dictatorial role of Julian Marsh. Despite still bringing the rough and strict persona, he still manages to bring charm and a likeability to an easily dislikable character. There is a great deal of depth to his role in the Made in Curve revival of 42nd Street which was credit to Garcia and the direction.

42nd Street’s success, of course, relies heavily on a talented Allentown dreamer, Peggy Sawyer. Casted wonderfully with Nicole-Lily Baisden she is absolutely fantastic and to quote Peggy herself when complemented on her skills, she gave an enthusiastic “I KNOW!” and we certainly know it too! Evolving well from a nervous but eager wannabee star desperate to make the chorus to a powerhouse performer in the finale, Baisden nails the performance and doesn’t put a foot wrong (except when she’s meant to!). She is all singing, all dancing and the epitome of a Broadway star. I loved her duet with Ruthie Henshall with About a Quarter to Nine and, of course, Forty-Second Street.

42nd street full cast finale at curve theatre press night photo by Alex Joy

Those beautiful dames and ‘bobby dazzler’ gentlemen formed an impeccable ensemble which complemented the leading cast fabulously. From jaw-dropping tap dancing synchronisation to breath-taking musical scores which was especially evident in “Lullaby of Broadway“. Can we take a moment just to appreciate the lines and formations they exhibited too? Incredible.

42nd Street is a timeless show with songs that feels genuinely like an old-school 1930’s Broadway musical. It’s finery certainly lies with the tap dancing, the decadent and extravagant array of costumes and the strong performances of the wonderful cast.

There is masterfully executed unisons, flamboyant costumes, interesting and clever use of lighting and a undeniably beautiful set – especially the steps finale! The pace kept moving at a speed that meant the show flew by despite being 2h 35 (including the internal). A thoroughly enjoyable and beautiful large-scale production.

There are some brief moments in 42nd Street that may not be considered appropriate in the current social climate which is a depiction of the time, but a lot of the critiques seemed to have been toned down in this revival especially surrounding Julian Marsh and Billy Lawlor. Though we do still have some elements of sexism and misogyny that are true to the storyline so do keep that in mind for your own discretion.

Alex was enthusiastically clapping after every performance and sussed me out with his “It’s making me want to tap dance and I don’t know how… so how are you?“. Regretting giving up tap at 18, that’s how! But in all seriousness, the show was brilliant and might well be my favourite show of this year, so far!

42nd Street is a visually spectacular musical with outstanding tap numbers and incredible performances. This was an easy 5 star production! It thoroughly deserved its enthusiastic applauses that roared around Curve and even more so, its standing ovation. Come and meet those dancing feet at Curve until June 3rd before they tap flap and shuffle off to run a season at Sadler’s Wells, London from Wednesday 7 June 2023 before embarking on a UK tour.

Curve Theatre, Leicester 17 MAY – 03 JUN
Running time: 2h 35 (including a 20 min interval)
Age Recommendation: 5+. Contains repetitive flashing lights and visual effects, pyrotechnics, theatrical smoke and haze, and loud sound effects.

Directed by Jonathon Church
Choreographed and designed by Bill Deamer and Rob Jones
Lighting designed by Ben Cracknell
Sound designed by Ian Dickinson and Gareth Tucker
Video designed by Jon Driscoll
Musical supervision by Jennifer Whyte
Orchestrations by Larry Blank


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