Sunday, April 1, 2018


Music by Harry Warren – Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble

Directed by Chris Baldock – Musical Direction by Nicolas Griffin
Conducted by Ian McLean AM CSC - Choreographed by Michelle Heine
Costume Design – Victoria Home, CLOC – Fiona Leach, Free-Rain

Set Design by Martin Searles, Susie and Steve Walsh
The Q – Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre until 15th April 2018

Reviewed by Bill Stephens

Sam Ward - Sophie Highmore - Louiza Blomfield -and ensemble in "42nd Street" 

Photo: Steph Burgess
From the moment the curtain raises on dozens of tapping feet the audience is transported into the razzle dazzle world of show-biz as the cast of the Broadway musical “Pretty Lady” busily rehearse for their big opening night. Young dancer, Peggy Sawyer (Sophie Highmore) arrives late, but manages to catch the eye of leading man, Billy Lawlor, (Sam Ward), incur the wrath of leading lady, Dorothy Brock (Louiza Blomfield) and the curiosity of big time producer, Julian Marsh (Jarrad West). And as this is a musical, no prizes for guessing who gets to go on and save the show when Dorothy Brock breaks her ankle just before opening night.

The quintessential Broadway musical, “42nd Street” is packed with recognisable songs, big dance numbers, and a captivatingly corny storyline.  Free Rain Theatre does it proud with a lavish production, under the experienced direction of Chris Baldock, which manages to capture a great deal of the spectacle and excitement expected of a Broadway show.

To the exciting sounds of a classy, appropriately brassy, band, conducted, with his signature attention to detail, by Ian McLean, the large, talented cast sing and dance their hearts out in a breathtaking succession of  tightly drilled, spectacularly costumed dance routines devised by Canberra’s queen of tap, Michelle Heine.  Scenery changes featuring dazzling LED images provide the production with a professional gloss.

In her first leading role, Sophie Highmore impresses as the young ingénue, Peggy Sawyer. She dances brilliantly, sings with charm and confidence, and has no trouble convincing that she could lead a Broadway show. Louiza Blomfield chews up the scenery in a very funny performance as the fading star, Dorothy Brock, while Jarrad West scores with his likeable portrayal of the Broadway producer, Julian Marsh.

Louiza Blomfield as Dorothy Brock

Photo: Steph Burgess
Among the large supporting cast, Debra Byrne as Maggie Jones, Sam Ward as Bill Lawlor, Karina Hudson as Ann Reilly and Michael Miller as Abner Dillon all delight with particularly strong performances.

With this production of   “42nd Street” , Free Rain Theatre have not only succeeded in achieving an excellent realisation of an iconic Broadway musical that captures and celebrates the very essence of Broadway, but which also delivers scintillating musical theatre which should not be missed by anyone seeking an evening of delightful theatrical  escapism. 



This review first published in the digital edition of CITY NEWS on 29th March 2018.