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Children's shows - reviews

42nd St

Drury Lane Theatre
2.30pm, 15 April 2017

For my seven-year-old tap dancer, this show was not only a glitzy, shimmering and glamorous experience, it was a revelation.

Although the tapping was fast, furious and technically brilliant, she realised that they were also doing many of her steps from her Grade 1 tap class – albeit a lot faster and mixed amongst some trickier bits – but it made her realise that if she kept going – she too could do it.

The story in 42nd St is pretty dated if I’m honest and as it comes from the 1933 Warner Brothers movie, this is not a surprise. It’s a backstage fairytale. A big musical is about to open but the veteran star breaks her ankle. The show’s successful director Julian Marsh is about to close it when the rest of the cast beg him to let chorus girl  Peggy Sawyer take on the role.

So far so cliched – topped off by Marsh’s line – “You’re going out a youngster but you’re going to come back a star.”

But leaving the story aside, the staging is precise and slick and the dancing is just excellent and well worth seeing for that alone.

From the famous opening where the curtain rises a few inches to reveal a line of tap shoes hoofing away to the finale when the cast time step from the back to the front of the stage in perfect time, the energy was immense and often made the hairs on my neck stand on end.

In one a scene, the dancers’ legs create patterns in an overhead mirror, and in We’re In The Money the chorus tap on nickels and dimes. It was all shiny, neat and full of life.

It’s also wonderful to see 80s pop star Sheena Easton on the stage and realise she’s not just a lot of “my baby takes the morning train” but has a fabulously strong voice which came as quite a surprise. Also a shock to the sytem was the amazing voice of Tom Lister – that bloke off Emmerdale. When people are well-known for being in a soap it’s easy to forget they’ve probably trained hard in all the disciplines and Tom had certainly trained his voice. Marvellous.

As we rocketed through all the hits such as Lullaby of Broadway, Go Into Your Dance and Shuffle Off To Buffalo I managed not to wince too much during Keep Young and Beautiful and hoped V didn’t register that they were singing “What’s cute about a little cutie is her beauty, not brains.”

We just concentrated on the talent of the cast and for those like me who were massively disappointed with La La Land, your faith in the glitzy musical with great singing and dancing will be restored.

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