42nd Street – Review

42nd Street closes at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in January and it is going out on a flourish with Bonnie Langford demonstrating just why she is the grande dame of the West End.

The 54-year-old entertainer opened this week in the show, playing its veteran stage star, Dorothy Brock, and the part could have been written for her.

I’m confident that this versatile performer, who has been entertaining audiences her entire life (she made her stage debut at just four months) isn’t at all like the demanding diva, Miss Brock, but I’m betting she knows the type inside and out.

Bonnie, raised a child star, educated in stage schools, is professional to her bones and her assured performance is a real highlight of the show.

42nd Street opened in April last year and it has been an unmitigated triumph (read my original ★★★★★ review HERE).

The public fell in love with this piece of Broadway nostalgia that features some of the great tap-dancing production numbers of all time.

In 18 months this dazzling show hasn’t put a foot wrong. It is a spectacular from the opening number, when the entire cast are hoofing onstage, to its closing extravaganza.

It has undoubtedly made a star of its leading lady, dancer extraordinaire, Clare Halse, who had hitherto only secured understudy roles, and it has given work to some of the best young tappers in the business.

The success of 42nd Street is down to producers Michael Grade (yes, he off the TV), and Michael Linnit, who took a punt on what they thought the public wanted – and they were right.

It is a phenomenal show. Director Mark Bramble, choreographer Randy Skinner and costume designer Roger Kirk, have brought back some of the glitz and glamour of the big Busby Berkeley musicals.

Not only is this one of the most extravagant shows to look at but it features Berkeley’s trademark complex geometric patterns, with a mirror coming down to enhance the magic.

If you haven’t seen it then I would urge you to buy tickets for its final run. The story is pure Broadway fantasy and will captivate you from the off.

Country girl Peggy Sawyer, down to her last few cents during The Great Depression, gambles everything on getting a part in a Julian Marsh Broadway musical.

But she’s late and blows her chance after upsetting both the director and star.

Dorothy Brock is the consummate leading lady, but she’s at the end of her career, and only gets the main role in Marsh’s new show because her sugar daddy, is stumping up the production costs.

But disaster strikes when Dorothy is injured. The future of the show is thrown into doubt. What can they do?

Pure whimsy, of course, but Langford is luminescent. She’s funny, sings superbly, as you’d expect, and plays the role of Brock completely straight rather than for laughs.

She’s not a star on the wane. On the contrary, it is still climbing meteorically upwards into the heavens.

There are standout turns by Halse, Ashley Day as her admirer, “juvenile” lead Billy Lawlor, and Tom Lister as Marsh. Langford is the icing on a very rich gateau.

Book now before it’s too late.

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42nd Street
  • 42nd Street


Bonnie Langford joins 42nd Street for its final few months and she is luminescent. Funny, daring and glamorous. A spectacular performance in a triumphant show.

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