Take around 100 hopefuls, give them the chance to train with the Alex’s creative team and then let them experience the full on ‘smell of the greasepaint and roar of the crowd’ that you only really get in a professional theatre. That’s what the New Alexandra Theatre’s Stage Experience offers and I’ll admit it, I was expecting enthusiasm and smiles but not the kind of polish you usually get at The Alex. Well, colour me three shades of wrong, every blister, pulled muscle and strained vocal cord that this cast may have suffered over the past two weeks that they spent honing their moves and learning their lines was well and truly worth it.
Of course 42nd Street’s pretty much the perfect choice as it’s all about new talent getting its big break and there’s certainly plenty of that on offer in this full scale production. Caprice Lane was perfect as the fledgling star in the making Peggy Sawyer, a role that’s certain to be reflected in her real life career, and Matt Pidgeon out-tapped...well...pretty much anyone I’ve ever seen...playing opposite her as Billy Lawlor.
Playing roles designed for much older actors and actresses is always a huge challenge but Mollie-Anne Riley nailed the fading star Dorothy Brock and Mark Shaun Walsh impressed as the producer on the edge, Julian Marsh. The full cast numbers were a particular delight as well. It’s all too rare these days to see dozens of dancing feet on a stage and, despite the youngest being just 9 years old, the synchronisation was remarkably good, presumably due to some pretty intensive training and endless rehearsals (I’m guessing that the choreographer and director Pollyann Tanner will need a good lie down after these past few weeks). There’s no skimping on the production values anywhere in fact. I’m sure I heard someone say that this show uses a washing machine bustin’ 450 different outfits, the set’s been used in the West End and even The Alex's regular orchestra were used to provide the music. To quote Julian Marsh in the show itself, “Congratulations kids, that was damn good!”
42nd Street is on at The New Alex Theatre until Saturday August 15th. Tickets right here. See the stars of tomorrow (seriously, I bet my bottom dollar some of these will make it to full on West End starring roles), today!