Erindale was alive tonight with Philo's opening of 42nd Street. The froth and bubble of Broadway is generous if not really enlightening, and the cast delivered a fine performance of a quaint old musical.
The story is that of a talented girl who dreams of singing on Broadway. Her talent noticed, she lands a role in the chorus line and when she accidentally trips the leading lady, fracturing her ankle, she manages to take her place. Woops, did I give away the ending? No, I think that was the writer. However mind-numbingly trite the story may be, 42nd Street, which began its life as a novel in 1932 and was adapted for the screen as a musical in 1933, won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1934. Then, after almost fifty years of well-earned obscurity, David Merrick and Gower Champion (yes, that's a real name!) decided to inflict it on the world again, so they adapted it for the stage and inexplicably made a killing with it on Broadway.
Now, I suppose I must sound like I can't have enjoyed this show very much at all, but I just like a good story, and a good story this ain't. I can tell a good show when I see one, though, and Philo's production certainly is one of them. A cast with talent to burn really makes for an enjoyable experience, and the songs – while mostly extraneous to the plot and occasionally entirely irrelevant – are jazzy, light and entertaining. Truly, the talents of Harry Warren, who wrote the music, combined with this cast, have redeemed an otherwise worthless bit of froth.
Ele Wilcher plays the talented young girl who stumbles into fame, and her voice is divine. She is complemented by the equally talented Adrian Flor in the role of Billy Lawlor, but both are just about eclipsed by the sublime Kate Tricks who works wonders with Al Dubin's lyrics. Actually, the froth would be worth sitting through just to hear her gutsy rendition of Shadow Waltz again, which was truly the highlight of the night. That is, unless you count We're in the Money in which an enthusiastic and well-rehearsed chorus are a testament to Amy Fitzpatrick's expert choreography.
If I never see 42nd Street again, it will be too soon; but I would quite happily listen to the soundtrack of this production on my next road trip!
Canberra Philharmonic Society presents
Directed by Jim McMullen
Venue: Erindale Theatre, McBryde Cres, Wanniassa ACT
Dates: 10th – 26th March 2011
Times: 8pm (2pm matinees on the 19th and 26th March)
Tickets: Adults $45, Members $38, Students/concession/pension $35
Bookings: www.philo.org.au/ticketing | 6257 1950 (9am-4pm, Mon-Fri, phone booking fees apply).