When 42nd Street originally played the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, it made a star out of a then unknown Catherine Zeta Jones, 2nd understudy to the role of Peggy Sawyer – the dancer in the show who takes over the lead role at the last minute when the leading lady gets sick. Now it’s back – and it’s bigger, better and more showbiz than ever!

This Michael Linnit and Michael Grade production follows in the footsteps of their London Coliseum productions of Sweeney Todd and Sunset Boulevard in its grand scale. There’s a huge chorus with dozens of dancers and, in one of the show’s great set pieces, a staircase appears with dancers tapping on it, unfolding down in front of the an incredulous audience, as more and more dancers appear. It’s one of many great theatrical moments in the show.

Headliner Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock brings a kind of eighties glamour to the evening and is no doubt a huge draw for a large proportion of the show’s target audience. Easton has previously appeared in a couple of musicals on Broadway but makes her West End debut here and is strangely well suited to the role of the unapproachable diva who is desperate for a comeback and involved with the show’s ancient financial backer (the delightfully irascible Bruce Montague) while secretly meeting her true love (Norman Bowman).

As Julian Marsh, the producer of Pretty Lady – the show within a show in this showbiz tale – Tom Lister is very much at home as a man desperate to achieve another hit. The show features auditions for the show, an out-of-town tryout in Philadelphia, and eventual opening in New York – but will it be a success for the down-on-his-luck Marsh?

As it turns out, that depends not on Brock but on a young ingénue from the chorus, Peggy Sawyer who’s looking for her first break into musical theatre. Step forward Clare Halse who should become a new theatre star through her performance in this show (she should also take the last bow in the finale but that’s another story!). What there is of a dramatic storyline in 42nd Street hinges on whether Sawyer will be able to learn the lead role in record time and save the show – and the company’s jobs! The show’s writers Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble – the latter directs this production – also throw in an innocent yet engaging love story with leading male dancer Billy Lawlor (Stuart Neal) who both gets Sawyer into the show in the first place and tries to win her heart.

Harry Warren’s melodies for numbers such as ‘We’re in the money’ (an Act 1 showstopper), the title number and  ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ are as sumptuous as they are uplifting and musical director Jae Alexander is obviously in his element in an elevating conductor’s seat! 42nd Street has a string of great supporting roles, led by Jasna Ivir and Christopher Howell as Pretty Lady’s writers who both work on the show and appear in it (as writers sometimes did in those days). They ‘Shuffle Off to Buffalo’ with the chorus in another musical delight.

42nd Street is pure showbiz at its core – as Marsh says to Sawyer, ‘You’re going out there a nobody, but you gotta come back a STAR!!!’. It’s just the kind of uplifting show the West End needs in the light of Brexit and a general election and features surely the hardest working ensemble in the West End. In the last show of an 8 show week the whole company were projecting excitement and pure showbiz throughout…it’s a taptastic delight!