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Musical extravaganza that's right up your street

42nd Street, Sunderland Empire Theatre, until May 26 - The musical of musicals is enjoying its latest revival and I have a sneaky suspicion North-East audiences are going to be pleased as punch.

42nd Street, Sunderland Empire Theatre, until May 26

The musical of musicals is enjoying its latest revival ... and I have a sneaky suspicion North-East audiences are going to be pleased as punch.

The show, based on the 1933 film of the same name, was first brought to the stage in 1980 and has spent the time which has lapsed since harvesting Tony and Olivier Awards aplenty - as well as charming theatre crowds on both sides of the Atlantic. So, it's Wearside's turn for the next fortnight and whether you consider yourself to be a 42nd Street veteran or, like me - until last night - have not yet become acquainted with the classic rags to riches tale, it's a fair wager that you'll be leaving the theatre with a tap in your step.

The plot focuses on the efforts of famed Broadway director Julian Marsh's mission to mount a successful on-stage musical extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression ... and on one very talented (but seemingly reluctant) showgirl, Peggy Sawyer who has dreamed of on-stage stardom for as long as she can remember.

The show opens with a top notch tap number - Audition - which showcases the considerable talents of the sizeable ensemble, including local actress Sarah Thornton.

We're quickly introduced to Peggy, who fluffs her impromptu audition due to her apparent mouse-like disposition.

However, when she's convinced to Go Into Your Dance during a lunch with three of the chorus girls, she shows just what she can do - and all in front of Mr Marsh himself.

As you would expect Peggy, played wonderfully by Jessica Punch, quickly embeds herself in the show but she is accused of deliberately injuring the star the night before opening and is fired.

Marsh calls for the house lights, and we're propelled into the interval. I won't be a total plot spoiler by taking you through Act Two dance step by dance step, but suffice to say, Peggy manages to get her moment in the spotlight before the curtain comes down.

42nd Street razzles and dazzles in equal measure. The bosses of this show certainly deserve to be In The Money by my reckoning.

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