CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Review: 42nd Street, Upstairs At The Gatehouse

The challenge is conquered with beautiful simplicity, tight tap choreography and stunning individual performances

23 December, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Tamsin Dowsett stars in 42nd Street [Photo: Darren Bell]

IF you were lucky enough to see the spectacular, big budget 42nd Street in Drury Lane before the Theatre Royal closed for refurbishment, you may be wondering what they are smoking up in Highgate village, where they are putting on their own version with a cast of 13 in the slightly more intimate arena of the Upstairs At The Gatehouse theatre.

But the challenge is conquered with beautiful simplicity, tight tap choreography and stunning individual performances. It should come as no surprise; this theatre always produces a classy alternative to panto season at Christmas by lovingly reimagining some of our favourite musicals.

Almost mocking its own story, Sheena Easton and Lulu were celeb ticket-sellers in the role of Dorothy Brock in the West End, but Tamsin Dowsett’s power voice stretches her take beyond the grouchy diva norm. You’d pay to hear her sing alone.

The story goes that Brock is cast in a hopeful production called Pretty Woman, only to be catastrophically injured when accidentally stepped on by small-town girl Peggy Sawyer on opening night. Sawyer despondently begins to trudge back to the station, her dreams shattered, but, wait, you can guess the rest…

There is wonderful melodrama, lots of people shouting that the show is cancelled with one breath or the show must go on with another, while perking themselves up with eye-popping set pieces.

We’re in the Money and The Lullaby of Broadway, everybody’s favourites, are delivered using every inch of a smart set. Then there’s more of Dowsett’s ballads. It’s a perfect mix.

And while Drury Lane had zillion pound revolving mirrors and squads of dancing girls, who could afford the front row seat to watch it all up close? Here in Highgate, you’re so near to the action, you really see how hard this cast is working. This is five stars. I’d go again.

Until January 26, 2020 020 8340 348

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