Entertainment & Arts

42nd Street gets royal seal of approval

The Duchess of Cambridge with Mark Bramble Image copyright PA
Image caption The Duchess of Cambridge received a pair of golden tap shoes after the performance

Come and meet those dancing feet, they said to the Duchess of Cambridge - and meet them she did.

The result was a right royal launch for the latest West End production of 42nd Street, with Kate as guest of honour.

Hollywood star Morgan Freeman, DJ Sara Cox and Dame Esther Rantzen were also among the audience at London's Theatre Royal Drury Lane on Tuesday.

Based on the 1933 film, the show tells of a young performer in Depression-era New York who gets a shot at stardom.

Dressed in a maroon Marchesa gown, the Duchess attended in her role as Royal Patron of East Anglia's Children's Hospices.

She left with a golden pair of tap shoes, presented to her on stage after the curtain call by Mark Bramble, the show's director and co-author.

Tap is in abundance during the musical itself, which dramatises the painstaking coming-together of a Broadway stage spectacular.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Morgan Freeman was pictured with Miranda actress Sarah Hadland as he arrived on Tuesday

Scottish-born singer Sheena Easton heads its cast, making her West End debut as a temperamental star whose indisposition allows an unknown chorine, played by Clare Halse, to take centre stage.

According to co-producer Michael Grade, the musical - which features such familiar songs as Lullaby of Broadway, Keep Young and Beautiful and We're In The Money - is "the right show at the right time".

"I think the public are ready for just some pure entertainment," said the former BBC chairman. "You're guaranteed to come out feeling better than when you went in."

"In times of trouble we look for things that bring us joy," agreed the choreographer Arlene Phillips. "It's a great story, a big, old-fashioned musical, and it just gets right inside you."

What did the critics make of it though? Here's a breakdown of what the Telegraph, the Mail, the Mirror, The Times and The Guardian have been saying.

Image copyright Brinkhoff and Moegenburg
Image copyright Brinkhoff and Moegenburg
Image copyright PA
Image copyright Brinkhoff and Moegenburg
Image copyright Brinkhoff and Moegenburg

The West End opening of 42nd Street comes only a few weeks after that of An American in Paris, another old-school mix of classic songs, tireless hoofing and glamorous spectacle.

London's theatrical nostalgia boom will continue next month when the Open Air theatre in Regent's Park launches its summer revival of On the Town.

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