42nd Street has a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin, and music by Harry Warren. The original production was one of the most popular musicals of the day, but it was the 1980 Broadway production, directed by Gower Champion that became a long-running hit. The musical is based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent 1933 film adaptation, and focuses on the famous director Julian Marsh to produce a successful stage production during the height of the Great Depression in 1930s New York. The show is popular with amateur and rep companies all over the world and currently tours the USA and UK.
Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Original Broadway Production
Winter Garden Theatre, Majestic Theatre, St James Theatre - Opened 25 Aug 1980, closed 1 Jan 1970, 3486 performances
Cast: Jerry Orbach (Julian Marsh), Tammy Grimes as (Dorothy Brock), Wanda Richert (Peggy Sawyer), and Lee Roy Reams (Billy Lawlor). Replacements: Barry Nelson, Don Chastain, Elizabeth Allen, Dolores Gray, Millicent Martin as Dorothy, Lisa Brown, Karen Ziemba.
Original London Production
Theatre Royal Drury Lane - Opened 8 Aug 1984, closed 1 Jan 1970
Cast: Catherine Zeta Jones
Foxwoods Theatre - Opened 2 May 2001, closed 1 Jan 1970, 1524 performances
Cast: Michael Cumpsty, Christine Ebersole, Kate Levering, David Elder, Meredith Patterson, Todd Lattimore, Patrick Cassidy, Tom Wopat as Julian, Shirley Jones, Beth Leavel
What was your favourite production? Add your thoughts in the comments box
A chorus girl from out of town steps in to save the day when the star breaks her leg becoming an overnight dancing sensation on Broadway
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It is 1933 and auditions for a new Broadway show are underway. Peggy Sawyer arrives in New York fresh off the buss from Allentown in provincial Pennsylvania. She is noticed immediately by Billy Lawlor who hopes to charm her into going on a date with him. Although she has missed the audition he tells her he can help her, despite the choreographer Andy Lee having no time for another chorus girl. Peggy is embarrassed and runs off, straight into the director Julian Marsh. Fading star Dorothy Brock is disgusted at being made to audition for a role. She is a prima donna and brings with her a lot of drama, but Julian decides to cast her in order to secure significant financial backing from her wealthy partner Abner.
The chorus girls take pity on Peggy and take her to lunch. They ask her to show then a routine, and Julian sees her and instantly falls in love with her, deciding there may still be room for an extra dancer. Later at a party, Julian discovers that Dorothy is cheating on Abner with an old flame and is worried about the future of the show. He decides to break up their relationship, hiring some thugs to threaten Dorothy’s old boyfriend.
The whole cast head to Philadelphia for an out of town tryout , but on opening night Peggy falls into Dorothy and knocks her over. She is fired on the spot.
The show’s fate lies in the balance as Dorothy’s ankle is broken. The chorus girls are convinced that Peggy could fill in the part and convince Julian to take her back. He sees sense and rushes to catch her before her train leaves. Peggy is distraught and wants to leave showbiz to go home to Allentown, but after ‘The Lullaby of Broadway’ she is won over.
Peggy begins to learn the role quickly and Dorothy even starts to offer some advice, being friendly towards her. On opening night, Peggy is sent out a youngster but comes back a star, and her life changes forever. She chooses to go to the chorus party instead, leaving Julian alone onstage, with the dancing feet of ‘42nd Street’.
- Shadow Waltz
- Young and Healthy
- Go Into Your Dance
- You’re Getting To Be a Habit With Me
- Getting Out of Town
- We’re In the Money
- Sunny Side To Every Situation
- Lullaby of Broadway
- About a Quarter To Nine
- Shuffle Off To Buffalo
- 42nd Street
- Finale: 42nd Street (Reprise)
1981 Tony Awards: Best Choreography
1984 Olivier Awards: Best New Musical
2001 Tony Awards: Best Revival, Best Leading Actress (Christine Ebersole)
UK: Music Scope UK