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42nd Street: Cast of 13 to take on West End’s biggest show

Auditions for places in Highgate village theatre's Christmas musical

04 November, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Simon Adkins and Katie Plews at Upstairs At The Gatehouse

IT was known as one of the West End’s most daring shows, a grand production featuring more dancers than your eyes could keep up with.

So they are either crazy – or geniuses – at a fringe theatre in Highgate Village where they are taking on the challenge of recreating the magic of 42 Street.

The big budget musical closed at the Theatre Royal earlier this year to make way for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s refurbishment of the Drury Lane playhouse.

But fans of the show, which features songs like We’re In The Money and Lullaby Of Broadway, will get a new look at Upstairs At The Gatehouse in December. Call back auditions for tap dancing actors were taking place at the theatre on Friday. Around 700 people applied for a role in the show.

In a coup for the ­theatre, Simon Adkins, who worked as the resident choreographer on the show in the West End has been enlisted to make sure everything goes smoothly.

“I’ve gone forum a cast of 58 to 13 but I do love a challenge,” he said. “Our ensemble is going to be busy. It was the biggest cast ever in the West End production. Drury Lane is so big, you can’t try to emulate that. You just have to do something different.”

Mr Adkins had a leading role in the theatre’s Christmas musical Singin’ In The Rain four years ago. On that occasion, the theatre caused a surprise by managing to plumb on-stage waterworks.

Upstairs At The Gatehouse owner John Plews said: “At Drury Lane everybody expects 58 girls walking down the steps and that’s why they are going. Here, we have to say: ok, let’s have the storyline come forward a little more.”

He added: “Fringe ­theatre is traditionally about new writing but everybody is doing that. So when we started 22 years ago, we were looking for a USP, so we said ‘let’s do revival shows’. There’s nothing wrong with that, they are damn good shows. The challenge has just been looking at the space and thinking how we can do them.”


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