Holy cow, I just got back from Pioneer Theatre Company's production of 42nd Street and I loved it. [Before I go any farther, I offer Felix's review, "I didn't hate it. I didn't gouge my eyes out. so take the rest of my review with this in mind.]
I know, this show is totally theater cliches. But it's only a cliche now because shows like 42nd Street were telling this story a hundred years or so ago. I know, the story line is weak; the character development is shallow, and the dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. But that's not what this show is about. This show is about great songs, great dancing, and more than anything else, it's about the chorus line.
So let's talk about the songs. It's hard to beat songs like I Only Have Eyes for You, We're In the Money, and Lullaby of Broadway. The lyrics by Al Dubin hold up surprisingly well in these economically troubled times. And could those melodies be anymore intoxicating? Thanks Harry Warren.
And how about that dancing? I'm not sure I've ever seen Pioneer Theatre Company so tight. Maybe it's because it's so late in the run, but the tapping was practically perfect. From the opening production number, to the Busby Berkeley inspired We're In the Money, to the finale, the dancers were brilliant. I'm seriously thinking about returning to tap class.
That leads me to my last point; the chorus line. I'm not sure there's a show that better showcases the chorus line than 42nd Street. Oh sure, you can tell me that A Chorus Line does a better job at honoring the chorus line but I'd disagree. This show only works if you have a brilliant chorus line. It demands that the least respected members of the cast be perfect. It's most brilliant not when the stars are on stage, but when the rank and file are dancing perfectly. It's an absolute tribute to the chorus line.
42nd Street plays through May 8. So you only have a few more days to see this brilliant, old-school show. If I were you, I'd get my tickets fast. Of course, you could always add the Busby Berkeley version to your Netflix list. It's even better than this brilliant production.