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  • Writer's pictureNeill Kovacic-Clarke


🎭 42nd Street

📍 The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth, Royal Parade, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2TR

🗓 Monday 7th August 2023



Last night I was once again at Theatre Royal Plymouth for yet another show! I was invited to review the current tour of 42nd Street which is playing in The Lyric auditorium until Saturday.

42nd Street follows the young and beautiful Peggy Sawyer as she arrives in New York City from small-town America with dreams of having her name in lights on Broadway. Although not initially impressed with her, a big-time director puts her in the chorus line of brand new show Pretty Lady. When the shows leading lady gets injured and is unable to continue, Peggy’s dreams could become a reality.

The show is a dazzling theatrical spectacle and the dances are enthralling and are really the star of the show. The supreme choreography by Bill Deamer is danced with utter precision by a stellar cast who are real masters of their craft. The choreography combined with glorious costumes designed by Robert Jones, who also serves as set designer, create an absolute spectacle. The athleticism and sheer talent of the cast is a wonder to witness and deserves the rapturous applause it received.

Production Image: Just one of the many stunning dance routines

Nicole-Lily Baisden is enchanting as Peggy Sawyer. Her character is described during the show as a golden talent and I would describe Baisden herself as a platinum talent. She shines beautifully as a leading lady and portrays the innocence of her young character with sublime purity. It is a pleasure to witness such talent on the stage. The very definition of a triple threat - her acting, singing and dancing skills were all triumphant - Nicole-Lily Baisden is on track to becoming a huge star of musical theatre.

Starring alongside Baisden are a plethora of household names. Samantha Womack as Dorothy Brock is mesmerising. She has a wonderfully sexy and sultry singing voice and her performance of I Only Have Eyes For You is beautifully serene and understated. Her characterisation is exceptional throughout and she perfectly portrays Dorothy’s character arc with precision and understanding.

Production Image: Samantha Womack is exceptional

Michael Praed is commanding as Julian Marsh while Faye Tozer as Maggie Jones and Les Dennis as Bert Barry are joyously comedic. Tozer’s elegant vocals fit perfectly into this production and Dennis solidifies his National Treasure status as he gives a confidently entertaining performance.

There was so much talent on the stage last night but for me the utterly standout performance came from Olly Christopher as Billy Lawlor. He completely embodied his character and is the epitome of a musical theatre star. I found his performance utterly breathtaking. How he effortlessly transitioned from huge dance routines to laid back vocals was something special and takes complete knowledge of your body and utter control. His dancing was exquisite and listening to his velvet singing voice was like receiving a vocal hug, and boy can he hold a note! To find out after the show that he is a member of the ensemble who was covering the role somehow made his performance all the more spellbinding. I would love to see him as a leading man someday. A role such as Bobby Child in Crazy for You would be perfect for him.

Production Image: Nicole-Lily Baisden is a platinum talent

The show is filled with timeless musical theatre songs such as Keep Young and Beautiful, Lullaby of Broadway and We’re in the Money and is a smile-inducing riot of spectacular dancing, on-point comedy timing and great vocals. Essentially everything you could want from a big musical production.

The entire cast were captivating and I can’t mention them all in this review, but I also enjoyed the performances of Sarah-Marie Maxwell and Jordan Crouch who were both sensational.

So after being so positive and loving this show so much, you may be confused by why I have given this a star rating of four rather than five. The reasons are actually rather minor but for me they did stop me being able to give the show the full five stars. I had an issue with the start of We’re in the Money which sounded like it was in the wrong key and was actually quite unpleasant. The song did however go on to become a show-stopping spectacle! There were also frequent occasions where Praed was stumbling over his words and even mixed up character names at one point! Again, this was nothing devastatingly bad but it happened enough that as a reviewer I had to take it into account.

Production Image: The entire cast is captivating

Although there was an abundance of glitz and glamour, I almost wanted more! Perhaps a selfish want but at times I felt something was missing, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was!

That being said, I would go and see this production again in a heartbeat. It’s joyous and uplifting and I’m still singing the songs and doing very bad versions of the dance steps as I write my review! This show could easily become my next musical theatre obsession so I’m glad it’s only in Plymouth for a brief visit as it could become very expensive for me!

This tap-dancing bonanza is playing all week at Theatre Royal Plymouth. There is limited availability for all performances but shuffle off to and book your tickets now!

Neill Kovacic-Clarke

All views are my own and I pride myself on being honest and free from influence.

My ticket for this performance of 42nd Street was gifted by Theatre Royal Plymouth who invited me to watch the show in exchange for my honest review. The fact that my ticket was gifted played no part in the star rating given or the content of my review.

Production Image: Faye Tozer and Les Dennis are joyously comedic


Nicole-Lily Baisden as Peggy Sawyer; Samantha Womack as Dorothy Brock; Michael Praed as Julian Marsh; Olly Christopher as Billy Lawlor; Faye Tozer as Maggie Jones; Les Dennis as Bart Barry; Oliver Farnworth as Pat Denning; Anthony Ofoegbu as Abner Dillon; Sarah-Marie Maxwell as Ann Reilly; Erica-Jayne Alden as Lorraine Fleming; Kevin Brewis as Mac; Aimee Hodnett as Phyllis Dale; Jordan Crouch as Andy Lee

Ensemble: Charlie Bishop; George Beet; Rhianna Dorris; Ashleigh Graham; Connor Hughes; Deja Linton; Greta McKinnon; Ben Middleton; Benjamin Mundy; Jessica Wright

RUNNING TIME (approx):

2 hours 35 minutes, including interval

The Theatre Royal Plymouth is the principle home of the performing arts in the South West and is the largest and most attended regional producing theatre in the country. Their mission is to develop and deepen people's engagement with pioneering creativity in Plymouth and the South West, delivering experiences that spark delight, expression and fulfilment. The venue offers three performance spaces of various sizes, the largest being The Lyric which accommodates the big touring productions. The Drum and The Lab are smaller, intimate spaces and often offer pioneering productions and I have personally seen some excellent productions in these spaces.


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