BroadwayHD/Fathom Events Presents Lavish West End 42nd Street Revival in Theatres May 1
By: Ellis Nassour
April 29, 2019: One of Broadway’s most classic and beloved tales, 42nd Street, comes to the big screen in the largest ever production of the beloved musical, presented by BroadwayHD and Fathom Events. The stunning digital shoot of the lavish and spectacular 2017 West End production will play on the big screen in cinemas May 1 before joining the Broadway HD online archive. Area theatres showing the musical are Regal’s Union Square 14 and Battery Park 11 and AMC’s Kips Bay 15. Tickets are $18.
The billboards all over London had it right: 42nd Street, “Broadway’s biggest show on London’s biggest stage,” the historic (1812) Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, where it premiered in 1984 and captured the Olivier for Best Musical. The eye-popping extravaganza filled the massive stage with a cast of 55, which included the largest army of hoofers in West End history, and a 20-piece orchestra, colorful costumes, and show-stopping production numbers. It won high praise from media critics. The production was an Oliver Awards nominee for Best Revival, Best Choreography, and Best Costumes.
The original production, with songs by Al Dubin and Harry Warren from various films, and an added tune by Johnny Mercer, was the last show to be directed and choreographed by screen dance legend Gower Champion, who reaped wide acclaim for Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! Randy Skinner and Karin Baker were assistant choreographers, mainly in charge of the tap numbers.
BroadwayHD captured the lavish 2017 revival, directed by Bramble and choreographed by four-time Tony and three Drama Desk-nominee Randy Skinner, who added much more choreography, over three performances at the Drury Lane, London’s Theatre Royal, where,
Incidentally, it premiered in 1984 and captured the Olivier for Best Musical. Kelli Barclay, Skinner’s longtime associate, was assistant choreographer.
To say this 42nd Street was merely a revival would be incorrect. It features enhanced production numbers, more songs, bigger sets, lavish costumes, and an unforgettable tap opening and finale that explode in razzle dazzle. Skinner’s staging of a Berkeleyesque number with scantily-clad chorines on a revolve beneath a giant mirror in a kaleidoscope of movement is one of many breathtaking and memorable sequences.
He said, “The timing couldn’t be better for a show like 42nd Street. This is a show where people can sit back and relish in the energy and joy radiating from the stage as the company taps on giant coins and up and down staircases. The BroadwayHD production comes close to a live experience. It’s a great opportunity to experience 42nd Street again or to discover it for the first time.”
The Tony-winning musical, with book by Michael Stewart (Hello, Dolly) and Mark Bramble, was presented on Broadway in 1980, opening at the Majestic, and revived in 2001 in a more lavish production at the [then] Ford Center for the Performing Arts [now, the Lyric]. It was based on Busby Berkeley’s 1933 Warner Bros. musical film, adapted from the novel by Bardford Ropes. It tells the Depression-era story of producer Julian Marsh making a comeback with a break-the-bank musical, Pretty Lady, starring prima donna Dorothy Brock, who’s accidentally injured and unable to go on the day before opening night. Set to close the show at a huge loss, Marsh is told of a chorus girl who can dance – and sing – the hell out of t he role. Peggy Sawyer, a fresh-off-the-bus ingénue from Allentown rises from the chorus for a 24-hour boot camp to learn the show. In a theatrical miracle, she goes onstage a youngster but comes back a star.
Peggy Sawyer was portrayed by Clare Halse (recent West End Gypsy revival; Kathy Selden in Paris production of Singin’ in the Rain), with U.K. stage veteran and TV star Tom Lister as Marsh. Following Sheena Easton and Lulu as Brock was popular stage and TV star Bonnie Landford (TV’s Eastenders; West End’s Gypsy, opposite Angela Lansbury, Chicago, and Cats). This trio, along with other members of the original cast, headline the BroadwayHD film.
“We’re in the Money,” “About a Quarter to Nine,”“Boulevard of Broken Dreams,”“You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “With Plenty of Money and You,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Lullaby of Broadway”, and the title song are among the Tin Pan Alley classics.
“42nd Street was a groundbreaking production that made Broadway accessible and appealing to the masses,” says BroadwayHD co-founder and Tony-winning producer Stewart F. Lane. BroadwayHD’s mission to make live theatre accessible and affordable to fans across the globe. “Our production team paid close detail to every element of this iconic show in filming (with several cameras and numerous angles) and editing. Viewers will feel that they’re sitting in the hottest seat in the house.”
Todd Ellison is music supervisor, with music direction by Jae Alexander. Costumes are by Roger Kire, with sets by Douglas Schmidt. Ross MacGibbon, in collaboration with Bramble, directed the filmed version, which features close-ups, aerial shots, and, best of all, close-ups of those tightly-drilled and frenzied dancing feet.