As a single line of slamming t-bar tap shoes is revealed by the rising stage curtain, Curve plops you straight into mid-town Manhattan where for the next two hours you’re a backstage voyeur sneaking a peek at the dancers and producers of a 1930s theatrical start-up. Welcome to 42nd Street.
Enter writers and an ‘angel investor’ prepared to foot the bill of a brand-new touring show that’s audacious enough to try its luck during American’s Great Depression. Their show – Pretty Lady – stars a handpicked chorus line of “kids” desperate for the gig. Watch them nail their synchronised steps every time of asking, fuelled like most performers by their love of the dance and not the lure of a pay-cheque that might never materialise.
42nd Street’s stage-stealing chorus line of dancers project American accents that are as endearing as the girl’s pin-curled hair dos and vintage shorts that accentuate their high-kicking legs. In terms of costume alone, pick a seat upfront to appreciate how fast the hem of a 1930’s tea-dress can swirl when Anytime Annie (danced by Lisa Donmall Reeve) spins inside it. And watch as vintage vanity cases swing in time with a 14-piece orchestra replicating the brass boom of Broadway from stage rear.
With every business investor comes unwanted baggage – but, on 42nd Street at least, it’s vintage – in the form of aging star Dorothy Brock (played by a captivating Ria Jones, whose vocals fill Curve with the classic love song I Only Have Eyes For You). Brock, tangled up in the chorus’ lithe limbs, is sadly past it, so we all know…oh yes we do… where the plot of this musical fairytale is heading.
Lo and behold the new kid in town, little Peggy Sewyer from Allentown PA (Daisy Maywood is cast), lands a bolt-on role as a standby hoofer and joins the show on the road. Peggy Sewyer’s big city dreams and big talent for dancing on table-tops in local diners wins her the admiration of the chorus line kids.
But is it her big-hearted ambitions or just her big eyelashes that convince bigwig Broadway producer Julian Marsh (a moustachio’d Tim Flavin) to make her his new rising star? Who cares… that’s a throwaway question you’re left to ruminate if you’re not so wrapped up in 42nd Street’s razzamatazz and show songs that all you want to do is dance your way home and watch the original 1933 movie.
At Curve this Christmas oversized dimes become podiums for tap-dancers, chaise lounges recreate showbiz after-parties and retractable golden lights flood the stage with the everlasting aura of Broadway glamour. Show-stoppers belted out by the tuneful, tireless and joyful cast of 23, include We’re In The Money, Lullaby of Broadway and the smouldering title number (which perhaps deserves a little more welly as the run continues) 42nd Street.
By staging a musical that’s rooted in an era wrecked by the Wall Street Crash, Curve reminds festive audiences that it’s still “swell” to stir some dreamy star-spangled joy into their Christmas – no matter how depressing the latest economic crash can feel.
42nd Street will now run until Saturday January 21 after extending its run due to public demand.
To purchase tickets and for further information visit Curve at www.curveonline.co.uk, or call 0116 242 3595 for the box office.