A RAGS-TO-RICHES story with show-stopping tap numbers opens on the North East’s biggest stage tonight.
Dave Willets and Marti Webb top the bill in 42nd Street at Sunderland Empire.
The show, produced by David Merrick and with music by Harry Warren, opened on Broadway in 1980 and ran for 3,486 performances, making it the 13th most successful show on New York’s famous street of theatre.
It won a Tony Award in New York as best musical and then an Olivier Award in the same category when it opened in London in 1984.
UK Productions revived the Broadway production for a UK tour in 2007 and Dave Willets took over from Paul Nicholas as Julian Marsh, the theatre director in charge of getting a big show off the ground.
With UK Productions again calling the shots, Dave has returned to a show and a role he knows well.
Like Marti Webb, who plays prima donna Dorothy Brock, he’s a big West End star making a North East return.
Also in the cast this week, however, is local girl and rising star Hollie Sorelle who was born in Hartlepool and started singing and dancing as a tot at the local Val Armstrong School of Performing Arts.
At this point a blizzard of names requires a little explaining.
Val is actually Hollie’s mum although she runs the dance school under her maiden name.
By marriage she is Val Harrissk and Hollie was born Hollie-Sorelle Harrissk (she thinks the surname might have Polish origins).
On her marriage last year to Paul McCully, from Northern Ireland – on the same day that saw William and Kate royally hitched – Hollie became Mrs McCully.
But for stage purposes she sticks with Hollie Sorelle which sounds suitably showbusiness.
Hollie went to London at the age of 11 to further her theatrical ambitions.
Now 24, she has a decent CV which includes the role of Cinderella in the Darlington Civic panto which she took over last season when Emma Stephens fell ill. In 42nd Street she is understudy to three characters, including Peggy Sawyer, the naive young showgirl who unwittingly crosses the fearsome Miss Brock but triumphs in the end.
42nd Street, whose big dance numbers should quicken the pulse, runs at Sunderland Empire until Saturday.
Tickets: 08448 713 022 or www.ATGtickets.com/Sunderland