It took 42nd Street 47 years after the appearance of the movie musical in 1933 to become a hit Broadway musical in 1980, even though the storyline is a tribute to the Great White Way, the quintessential backstage story of a musical producer and the chorus girl who becomes a star. It may have been the impossibility of recreating choreographer Busby Berkeley's geometric dance patterns on a stage or the paucity of the score (the film had only five songs) that kept anyone from thinking of the transfer before, but once 42nd Street got to Broadway, it stayed for more than eight years. So, the 2001 Broadway revival hit the boards a mere 12 years after the original production shuttered, not long by Rialto standards. Yet the aptness of opening the show on the renovated 42nd Street itself may have been too much to resist. Original co-librettist and now director Mark Bramble and original co-dance assistant and now choreographer Randy Skinner haven't changed much about the show, which borrowed extra songs from half a dozen 1930s movie musicals with scores by composer Harry Warren to fill out the score, other than to expand it slightly. Three songs, "With Plenty of Money and You," "I Only Have Eyes for You," and "Keep Young and Beautiful," have been added, which, with lots of audible tap dancing, help make the CD-era revival cast album more than 25 minutes longer than the LP-era original cast album. Leads Michael Cumpsty and Christine Ebersole are as winning, if not as individual, as their Broadway predecessors, Jerry Orbach and Tammy Grimes, not to mention Hollywood's Warren Baxter and Ruby Keeler. But this is an ensemble show with plenty of room for secondary characters to shine, and they do, while the music sounds as good as ever.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|42nd Street, musical play|