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42nd Street at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo: Brinkhoff & Moegenburg)

Everything you need to know about 42nd Street

Carly-Ann Clements

By Carly-Ann Clements Published July 20, 2018

Are you ready to hear the beat of dancing feet in 42nd Street? If you’re yet to see the toe-tapping extravaganza, what are you waiting for? Here is everything you need to know about the London musical that will quickly rocket to the top of your must-see list.

The Backstory

Originally, 42nd Street was a novel written by Bradford Ropes in 1932. It was quickly adapted into a Hollywood film in 1933 starring Warner Baxter, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell, and the sparkling Ginger Rogers who made her breakthrough appearance in the film. Despite being a backstage story about a Broadway show, it didn’t make it onto the stage for almost 50 years.

In 1980, producer David Merrick took a gamble when he decided to stage the classic musical film. It had only been done once before and the production was deemed a failure. However, 42nd Street – with its giant cast, big numbers from Al Dubin, Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren, plus its glitz – was a huge success. It went on to win the Best Musical Tony Award and run for nine years.

In 1984, the production was brought to London where it won the Olivier Award for Best Musical. It was in this production that a young Catherine Zeta-Jones made her first step onto the ladder to mega-stardom. In a very 42nd Street-like way, Catherine – a chorus girl at the time – took on the role of Peggy when the lead and understudy both fell ill at the same time. She filled the tap shoes so well that she quickly took the role permanently.

The current production opened to previews in March 2017 and has played ever since. It was announced in July this year that it will be closing on 5 January 2019.

42nd Street at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo: Brinkhoff & Moegenburg)

What is 42nd Street about?

Set in 1933, 42nd Street tells the story of a small-town girl from Middle America trying to make it on Broadway. Fresh off the bus, Peggy uses her naive charm to win a place in the chorus line of the biggest new show in town. And when the star gets injured, they need someone new to take the lead. Will Peggy’s raw talent be enough to win her a place in the spotlight?

What age is it appropriate for?

It’s recommended for children aged 8 and over. Children under four will not be admitted to the auditorium.

How long is 42nd Street?

42nd Street is 2 hours and 30 minutes, including one interval. Performances are normally from Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm with matinees on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2.30pm.

Drury Lane, Theatre Royal London

Where is 42nd Street playing in London?

It’s playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in London’s Covent Garden. The nearest stations to the show are Covent Garden (250m) or Holborn (650m). You can also get to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane via overground train to London Charing Cross (800m).

 

Who is in the London cast?

With over 50 cast members appearing on stage every night, the show has the biggest cast in the West End. And the stage at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane is one of the few stages in the West End that would be able to comfortably host a tap-dancing cast that size.

  • Dorothy Brock is played by Steph Parry. Steph recently hit the headlines after stepping into a leading role of Mamma Mia! just 20 minutes before the curtain went up. Her predecessors include Lulu and Sheena Easton. From September this year, legend Bonnie Langford will be taking the role of Dorothy.
  • Julian Marsh is played by Tom Lister. Tom is best-known for his role as Carl King in Emmerdale. He has played the role of the stern but insightful director since the show opened.
  • Peggy Sawyer is played by Clare Halse. Clare has appeared in many West End shows including Wicked, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Gypsy, and Shrek The Musical. She’s played star-in-the-making Peggy since the show opened in 2017.
  • Billy Lawlor is played by Ashley Day. Most recently, Ashley starred as Jerry Mulligan in An American In Paris during its West End run. Prior to Ashley, the role of Billy was played by Stuart Neal.
  • Maggie Jones is played by Jasna Ivir. Jasna played the formidable Mrs Gloop in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory but is most famous for appearing in the 25th Anniversary concert of The Phantom Of The Opera.
  • Bert Barry is played by Christopher Howell. Christophe is a West End favourite and has appeared in many, many productions including Cinderella, Made In Dagenham, Stephen Ward, Wicked, Hairspray, My Fair Lady, The Witches Of Eastwick, and Fame.

42nd Street at The Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Photo: Brinkhoff & Moegenburg)

Will I like it?

This show is pure musical magic. Filled to the brim with glamour, sequins and familiar songs, it’s a hark back to traditional musical theatre. If you like massive dance spectaculars with some heart-warming tunes, plus an inspiring story, then step right up! It’s a joyful show for all the family that’ll make you want to go and buy a pair of tap shoes.

Where can I buy tickets?

Right here with us! Just visit the Official London Theatre 42nd Street ticketing page to find great tickets at great prices.

The show is also participating in Kids Week 2018; throughout August, a child aged 16 or under can go free when accompanied by an adult paying full price. Adults can also purchase up to two extra children’s tickets at half price, and there are no booking fees to pay.

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