Auckland Music Theatre
Directed by Grant Meese
Until October 23
New Zealand doesn't get all that many musicals these days so when a good one comes along it’s a real treat.
With its latest offering of 42nd Street, Auckland Music Theatre has turned one of the great musicals into a dazzling and entertaining show that sparkles with talent.
42nd Street tells the tale of a sweet, young, aspiring dancer named Peggy Sawyer who comes to New York to audition for the musical Pretty Lady. She arrives too late for the audition but makes an impression on the producer.
She is also a bit of a klutz managing to get offside with the leading lady, Dorothy Brock, and on opening night, she accidentally trips Ms Brock, who breaks her ankle.
The enraged director fires Peggy on the spot so she goes off to get the train back to her rural home town. But as is the case in the tradition of The Great American Dream things are about to change.
42nd Street is one of the great musicals with a host of well known songs (“Lullaby of Broadway” and “We’re in the Money”), some great lines, (“He’s a tenor but he’s got bass ideas”) and some spectacular dancing.
From the opening dance routine it’s obvious that this is a show with liveliness, passion and a bit of garishness.
The chorus line is not made up of statuesque long legged gals and suave guys but pretty ordinary looking dancers, who have loads of energy and style. They provide some of the best toe tapping routines the Civic has seen in a long time.
Derek Meltzer as Julian Marsh, producer of Pretty Lady, gives the show a real solidity. His crisp acting occasionally shows up the weakness of some of the others as he delivers his lines with conviction and real style.
Laura O’Sullivan as the naive Peggy gives a first-rate performance with some fine singing and dancing although her transformation in the second half to the star of the show doesn’t come with a great deal extra panache and power.
The stand out performer is Lyndon Keenan, as Billy Lawlor, who gives a full throttle performance right through the show. His dancing, singing and acting bring an engaging vibrancy to the part and helps electrify the show.
The other three leads of Suzanne Lee as Dorothy Brock, Grant Bridger as Bert Barry and Lynn Webster as Maggie Jones all turn on scintillating performamces.
The sets designed by Douglas W Schmidt and costumes by Roger Kirk are magnificent. With multiple scene and costume changes along with some clever lighting we are treated to a visual feat for two hours.
The small perfectly performing orchestra led by conductor Penny Dodd provides a tremendous accompanying sound.
Go to this show – you won’t see a performance this good, even in New York.
Sun, 03 Oct 2010