Unlike some of the previous musicals that have taken the stage in Shanghai, 42nd Street is a musical more in line with Broadway’s roots and traditions, a true reflection of the Broadway of old…you know, before shows adapted from Hollywood movies took it over. Originally, the show debuted in 1980, based upon the 1933 movie of the same name. After it’s Broadway debut and subsequent Tony award for Best Musical, 42nd Street went on to become one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history.
Like most Broadway musicals, the story is fairly simple and straight-forward. A young, wide-eyed girl (played brilliantly by Kristen Martin) comes to Broadway to make it big. After joining a musical production as an ensemble dancer, she must rise to the occasion after the show’s lead actress breaks her ankle. And despite the very American qualities in the story (becoming famous, naive girl in a big city, overcoming obstacles, etc.), the Chinese audience responded quite well to the show’s exciting ensemble tapdancing sequences. And who wouldn’t? They were a stellar cast and an amazing sight.
Considering it was opening night, we expected to see a few minor errors out of nervousness from the performers, but there was none of it on Wednesday night. The performers delivered a highly entertaining and convincing show. The only problem throughout the otherwise pleasant evening were the constant nattering among the ushers, the really noisy setup of the lights in the middle of the show, and the theatre-goers walking around while the show was on as if they were unaware of their surroundings. Maybe we were just unfortunate enough to be seated next to the door.
The distractions notwithstanding, we thought this was a remarkable feat by the producers from Nederlander, who had to assemble and fly in an all-foreign team of about 70 actors/singers dancers, musicians, tech engineers, and wardrobe managers (We hear this was their very first production in China). In other news, some of the shows in the next two weeks have already been all SOLD OUT so be sure to order your tickets soon! Readers in other parts of China will be glad to know the touring ensemble will move on to Hangzhou, Nanjing, Ningbo, Hefei, Wuhan, and finally Beijing (in that order).
42nd Street (四十二街 – 上海站)
in English, with Chinese supertitles
Majestic Theater, on 66 Jiangning Road (美琪大戏院, 在江宁路66号)
September 5 to September 22
Ticket Price Range: 160 to 800RMB
Ticket Hotline: 400 707 9999, 021-64812938, emma.cn
Kenneth Tan contributed to this story. Pictures by Hugo of PunctumFoto.