HEY THERE BROADWAY FANS! We are waking up every morning to the sounds of show tunes on our TOP 40 TONY AWARDS COUNTDOWN. We are just 17 DAYS AWAY from Broadway?s biggest night of the year?. The 73rd Annual Tony Awards. Are you ready for more of Broadway showstoppers?
At # 17 on our countdown, get ready to ready to experience Broadway during the time of the Great Depression. It is the ultimate backstage musical of what goes into making a show on the most famous street in New York. We follow an tyrannical Broadway diva, a famous notorious director giving his career one last chance to produce a big hit, and a nervous newbie chorus girl who eventually moves up to becoming a star after the diva breaks her ankle. We are of course are talking about the iconic 42nd Street. With an iconic score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin along with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, the show is based on a 1932 novel by Bradford Ropes and the 1933 Warner Bros. Pictures film of the same name.
From the 2001 telecast, the company of that year?s recent Broadway revival opened up the Tonys with a spectacular medley. The company started it off performing the title song live from their stage at The Ford Center for the Performing Arts (now the Lyric Theatre). From there, they tap danced out of the Theater, out onto the real 42nd Street, and onto a private subway train heading for the stage of New York?s famed Radio City Music Hall performing the classic WE?RE IN THE MONEY.
42ND STREET was first conceived by producer David Merrick in 1974. He took the biggest gamble of his life raising over $3 million dollars on the rights to turning the 1933 film into a stage musical. At the time, Broadway was mainly experience a lot of classic musical revivals that started becoming very nostalgic including NO NO NANETTE and his previous production VERY GOOD EDDIE.
The show had its world premiere in 1980 try out in Washington DC at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts which the initial reviews were negative. Following the tryout, the show went through various changes before making its way to Broadway?s Winter Garden Theatre and later transferred twice to the Majestic Theatre and the St. James Theatre. The original production ran for a total of 3,486 performances. Under the direction and choreography by Gower Champion, the cast consisted of?
Wanda Richert (later Cathy Wydner, Clare Leach, Karen Ziemba, and Lisa Brown) as the rising newbie ?Peggy Sawyer?,
Lee Roy Reams (later Jim Walton and James Brennan) as the heartthrob male tenor star ?Billy Lawlor?,
Joseph Bova as the co-creator of the new musical ?Bert Barry?,
and Carole Cook (later Bobo Lewis and Peggy Cass) as Joseph?s co-writing assistant ?Maggie Jones?.
The production earned raved reviews. However for the Broadway Opening Night of the original 42ND STREET, it was well known for being tragic, shocking, and emotional The high energy curtain call was cut short and David Merrick walked onto the stage delivering the most surprising news ever in Broadway history. It was kept secret from the company so it wouldn't affect their performance. The shocking news was that director and choreographer Gower Champion passed away from Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia blood cancer. He was only 61 years old. Everyone in the Winter Garden Theatre reacted with terror gasps, screams, and tears. Gower?s legacy lived on and still does today.
The original production of 42ND STREET received 8 Tony Awards nominations and winning 2 in 1981 including Best Musical.
Following the success of the Broadway run, 42ND STREET went on to become a worldwide hit including productions in Japan, London?s West End (featuring a teenage Catherine Zeta-Jones) which won the Olivier Awards for Best New Musical, Australia, and more. The show would later be revived on Broadway only once so far.
The first and most recent Broadway revival premiered in 2001 playing the Ford Center for the Performing Arts (now the Lyric Theatre) for a total of 1,524 performances. It also made history for the Theater as the longest running production performed there. Under the direction and rewrites by book writer Mark Bramble and choreography by Randy Skinner (assistant choreographer on the original production) both honoring their late friend Gower Champion, this, revival cast included?.
Kate Levering (later Nadine Isenegger and Meredith Patterson) as ?Peggy Sawyer?,
David Elder as ?Billy Lawlor?,
The revival was nominated for 9 Tony Awards in 2001 winning 2 for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Leading Actress in a Musical (for Christine Ebersole).
The 2001 revival did so well, it began touring and most recently made its debut in London?s West End back in 2017.
Most recently, BroadwayHD filmed that London company of the 2001 revival which is available to watch right now. Filmed live from the stage of London?s Royal Drury Lane and reuniting Bramble and Skinner, the cast featured?
Tom Lister as ?Julian Marsh?,
Bonnie Langford as ?Dorothy Brock?,
Clare Halse as ?Peggy Sawyer?,
Philip Bertioli as ?Billy Lawlor?,
Christopher Howell as ?Bert Barry?,
and Jasna Ivir as ?Maggie Jones?.
In addition, 42ND STREET is still being played in Schools, Community, and Regional Theatres everywhere.
Isn?t this musical the ultimate love letter to Broadway?