WORTH A LOOK?: *****
WHERE: Theatre Royal Drury Lane
WHEN: 25/3, runs to 22/7
33 years ago teenager Catherine Zeta-Jones was promoted from the chorus line to leading lady on this stage when the actress playing Peggy Sawyer in the Olivier Award-winning Broadway transfer fell ill.
- Read on for reasons including details of Sheena Easton’s West End debut
There’s nothing as poetic as the Zeta-Jones story about this production but it does boast a fabulously bitchy West End debut by Sheena Easton as Dorothy Brock, the original leading lady in a show called Pretty Lady, whose ups and downs form the basis of this show.
Brock’s star is fading and she can’t dance but she is seeing sugar daddy Abner Dillon (a bumbling Bruce Montague, best remembered for playing will-he-won’t-he lover Leonard in Butterflies) who will bankroll the show if she plays the lead.
Easton sings beautifully but is her acting (she grows ever more furious as the first act continues) that really impresses.
We’re on Broadway in the Great Depression of the 30s and we meet chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Clare Halse, pictured above,a real tap-dancing talent to look out for), who replaces Brock when she’s injured and catches the eye of director Julian Marsh (Tom Lister from TV’s Emmerdale proving he has the charisma and singing ability to be the romantic lead in such a giant show).
Also worthy of mention is tenor Billy Lawlor played by Stuart Neal who combines showstopping singing and dancing effortlessly.
Size queens will note that this production boasts both the West End’s biggest stage and cast and the spectacle of the dancing in some of the set piece numbers really takes the breath away. Particularly memorable are the giant coins used in We’re In The Money.
Other hits we’d forgotten we knew include the title track and Keep Young and Beautiful.
The triumph of the production is its fairy tale conclusion combined with show-must-go-on doggedness through a series of big ticket numbers. Those expecting Easton to dominate will find that she appears little in the second half but her place is taken by a rising star more than meriting such attention.