Review – 42nd Street, New Wimbledon Theatre

Wednesday 12 September 2012

You want the good news or bad news first?

The Good

The classic story of a chorus girl who goes on to become a star when the leading lady breaks her ankle tale is the stuff of musical legend. No complaints there.

Lots and LOTS and LOTS of tap dancing from the off and a hugely satisfying pair of big numbers at the end with a large cast of hoofers banging away like crazy.

The costumes. Lots of them.

The songs lyrics by Al Dubin, and music by Harry Warren.

Marti Webb can sing. So can Dave Willetts (but he sadly gets little opportunity).

The Bad

The book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble is a laugh-free zone that makes Top Hat‘s book look like a collaboration between Noel Coward and Oscar Wilde. Was it really that bad when Phil saw the show back in the 80s?

The ‘gags’ (if one can flatter them thusly) are delivered with such over-emphasis they barely produce a titter from the audience. The Whingers couldn’t even raise the enthusiasm to groan.

…and the Ugly

The sets. Oh dear, even by touring standards these must be pretty poor. What Phil remembers from the original Broadway and West End productions was the spectacle. Here, as so much has been spent on a large cast economics have presumably reduced them to a series of drops. One didn’t make sense at all, some sort of geometric floral motif vaguely reminiscent of the terrible London 2012 logo.

Dorothy Brock’s dressing room was very battered around the edges but perhaps this was a metaphor. And while we’re on the subject, there was a working door into it so why do some of the cast enter and exit her room from the sides? Rather ill-mannered of them in our view.

Act 2 sees a slight improvement with a big light-up staircase and a 3Dish version of a Philadelphia station.

The terribly flat lighting.

The audience. Yup, chatting again throughout the overtures, repeating what passed for jokes at full volume and the woman behind us who appeared to be practising ballon sculpting with her plastic bag.


We must end on some good news. This was the first time we’d been in the New Wimbledon‘s revamped circle bar now known as the Piano Bar. It’s been given a spanking make-over with such a lovely wooden floor Andrew and Phil were tempted to put on their tap shoes and try it out. More good news; they resisted.


Two out of Five: slightly corked or vinegary

7 Responses to “Review – 42nd Street, New Wimbledon Theatre”

  1. David Harvey Says:

    did you not speak to the woman with said plastic bag, or abuse her, at least? My personal bug bear is a theatre patron who insists on leaning forward in their seat, obliterating the view of the stage to those behind them. The last time this happened (Betty Blus Eyes) a sharp word to the selfish woman in front of me made her snap back in her seat and all was well again. We try to aim for stalls seats nowadays….

  2. ybradm Says:

    Perhaps you would like people with painful backs to be proscribed from all entertainment venues because they might impair your view by easing their pain? Presumably you sit in the less expensive areas of the auditorium where you look down on everyone else. Did it never occur to you that people might sit forward to ease discomfort and that a little kindness and sympathy might be in order?

  3. cheam Says:

    You were lucky – just been to matinee – and in front of us was woman with 4 year old and baby (not only one) – eventually management asked her to leave…..

  4. Lizzie Says:

    I was lucky enough to be treated to see this show today with my Daughter in law and Grandaughter, it was marvelous, the cast and music were fantastic, you can see the hard work that has gone into the dance routines, Marti Webb still has a wonderful voice. We were in the 2nd row and the people around us were very enthusiastic and we did laugh at the jokes. I can really recommend seeing the show as I came from the theatre wanting to dance up Wimbledon Broadway on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
    Thoroughly enjoyable.

  5. seejaybe43 Says:

    Bad audience behaviour is increasingly encroaching upon what is happening on-stage. The worst examples are people using mobile phones to text/receive texts. Remonstrating sometimes proves effective but when I did so recently – asking a woman to turn her phone off during the overture – she aggressively told me not to spoil her enjoyment by talking!

  6. Harry Zing Says:

    I actually really enjoyed this production; I found the production values very high and disagree about the sets, lighting, book and so forth. One thing I do agree on though boys is the audience; the audience at 42nd Street seems particularly bad all over; the elderly gentleman in the row in front of us literally belted along to ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ – but fortunately only during the overture. He had the decency to stay quiet as a mouse through the rest of the performance. Unfortunately, the elderly man behind me who thought it would be fun to ‘tap dance’ along in his seat throughout the show was rather less considerate.

  7. Lucy T Says:

    Ah, I was there (although giving it a slightly more full-bodied review: Most of the crowd was 60+, and while I probably would have fumed had I forked out £40 for a ticket, I found the oldiest humming along and repeating the jokes (“he said he wanted a MOUTHFUL, not an EARFUL, Mavis”) quite sweet. But to be fair I also had no emotional investment in the show and actually found myself pretty bored during tap break number 36,804. You didn’t mention the boys, though! The very eager, grinning, camply twirling male ensemble was a highlight.

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