Review: 42nd Street. Curve Leicester.

42nd Street sees dazzling success in Leicester

David Ian and Jonathan Church present the dazzling Leicester Curve and Sadler’s Wells production of 42nd Street. Opening in Leicester this week, before it goes on to tour the UK, this iconic song-and-dance spectacular features a hit parade of toe-tapping songs including “42nd Street,” “We’re In The Money,” and “Lullaby of Broadway,” that will leave you shimmying your way out the theatre.

Choreographed and designed by Olivier Award winners Bill Deamer and Rob Jones, 42nd Street is a classic 1930s showbiz fairy tale of rags to riches, that combines breath-taking tap dance routines, backstage intrigue, classic romance and delightful comedy.

As expected for a spectacular tribute to Broadway, there’s a marvellous big brass band directed by Jennifer White to kick off the action before hordes of dancing shoes flood the stage.

This production doesn’t shy away from the context of the characters desperation, using the curtain to project black and white footage of the Great Depression – a reminder of the real world before the audience gets sucked into the glamour of the stage.

There’s little more satisfying than a perfectly synchronised tap-choreography, and this cast performs it with aplomb. If you can tear your eyes away from their rhythmic feet, work your way past the high-waisted sailor shorts, and patterned jumpers, take a moment to watch individual faces, where every expression adds another dimension to their characters. In a story about the girl that stands out from the chorus to become a star, it’s nice that the ensemble still gets to shine in their own way.

Nicole-Lily Baisden is a musical triple threat as ingénue Peggy Sawyer, who succeeds in her dream of making it out of the chorus line and becoming a leading lady. Her eagerness endear the audience to her right at the start, which quickly turns to awe as her skills emerge.

Ruthie Henshall – known for her array of musical theatre roles including Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliott and all three leading ladies in Chicago – is fantastic as diva Dorothy Brock, endlessly amusing the audience with her romantic escapades and disdain for everyone around her.

Writing duo and producers Maggie Jones and Bert Barry are charmingly played by Josefina Gabrielle and Les Dennis. Adam Garcia is captivating as Julian Marsh, bringing a tender side to the demanding director as he strives to get the best from his cast, and humour as he’s not afraid to give his diva suitably sassy comebacks.

The creative directors – Robert Jones for set and costumes, Ben Cracknell for lighting, Ian Dickinson and Gareth Tucker on sound, and Jon Driscoll on projections – really pull the whole thing together, maintaining the glamour of the old Hollywood aesthetic, while giving us those sneak peeks of behind the scenes action, with a micro stage for the meta aspect and set being dismantled around the cast.

42nd Street may suggest you go to the theatre for the beautiful dames, but Peggy is definitely right when she says it’s the combined specks of dust that make something beautiful. The show is performing at the Curve until 3rd June 2023, purchase tickets here:

Photo Credits: Johan Persson/

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