Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Canberra Philharmonic Society.
Erindale Theatre until 26th March

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

If tap-dancing is your thing then this is the show for you. In Jim McMullen's entertaining production of David Merrick's homage to the Broadway musical, it's the dancers who steal the show in a series of exuberant, well-staged dance numbers choreographed by Amy Fitzpatrick.

"42nd Street" is jam-packed with theatrical cliches including the over-bearing director struggling to get his show opened, the ageing star who breaks her ankle just before opening night, and the talented young chorine who steps in at the last moment and saves the show. It's also crammed with a string of Harry Warren's most  delightfully tuneful songs, enthusiastically performed by the large on-stage ensemble augmented by a team of singers in the orchestra pit and all accompanied by a taut, tight and terrific band under the direction of Colin Fischer.

Heading the strong cast, Ian Croker is compelling as the Broadway director, his performance blemished only by his overwrought rendering of the title song in the finale. Anne Timperley, glamorous and devious as the ageing star, Adrian Flor, suave and brilliantined as her leading man, and Jordan Kelly as the ever-watchful dance director, all impress with strong performances. Kate Tricks also contributes a fine comedic characterisation which will be even funnier when she overcomes her disconcerting tendency to drop her voice at the end of sentences.

Despite being miscast in the pivotal role of the young chorine who steps in to save the show, Ele Wilcher gives a plucky, appealing performance, however in the show's climax, the least successful of the production numbers, she displays neither the vocal strength nor stage presence to make the premise convincing.

However this show is all about the singing and dancing so don't miss it.

(An edited version of this review appears in the March 17-23 edition of "City News".)