Broadway comes to Leicester this summer with a brand-new Made at Curve and Sadler’s Wells co-production of 42nd Street running at Curve between Wednesday, May 17 and Saturday, June 3.
We caught up with director Jonathan Church (Singin’ In the Rain, The Drifters Girl) to find out more about what we can expect from this iconic song-and-dance-spectacular.
42nd Street first premiered in 1980 and is often seen as the quintessential Broadway musical. Why do you think it’s stood the test of time?
42nd Street is perhaps one of the last of those great Broadway musicals that harks back to the golden age of Broadway and film musicals where the pleasure of large-scale dance numbers, beautiful sets and costumes, escapism and entertainment and the desire to delight its audience were its driving force. Those kinds of shows seem to be rarely made anymore. For me it is a glorious celebration of the magic of showbusiness and a truly uplifting show to watch.
Can you describe your process as a director? Why did you want to direct this musical and how are you preparing to bring 42nd Street to the stage in 2023?
42nd Street was one of the first UK West End musicals I saw as a child, and to have the opportunity to make a new production of a show that brought me so much pleasure was simply irresistible.
On a show like this that relies so much on the choreography, the music and design my process is led by the collaboration with the rest of the wider team – Choreographer, Musical Supervisor and Designer.
My role is to enable all those elements to have the best opportunity to fly but also to make sure that we are all working together and grounding the storytelling of the production
Specifically with this show, underneath all the fun and delight, there is a serious story about a group of performers
in the 1930’s (during the depression) trying to put a show on that could save their careers but also given the depression backdrop can allow them to survive financially.
The depression backdrop and the contradiction of our characters putting on the most uplifting and dazzling show at this difficult time to enable audiences to escape from their reality of the daily difficulties of their lives is also a reason why it felt right for us to do this show now – we are in our own depression, post covid and with our economy and public services in tatters, so perhaps audiences, like in the 30’s, want the opportunity to escape for an evening with a show like 42nd Street?
What can audiences expect from this production?
I hope they’re in for something spectacular, dazzling, energetic and uplifting. The sheer skill and collective energy of the cast combined with such exhilarating song and dance routines, should have audiences celebrating their achievements and singing and dancing down the street from the theatre!
Which number or scene are you most looking forward to working on?
There are two incredible dance numbers – ‘We’re In The Money’, and ‘42nd Street’ – that I can’t wait to see what our choreographer Bill Deamer will create. From my personal perspective I’m also always drawn to those moments in big shows where one person is left on stage with the emotion that they’re dealing with. The character Dorothy Brock has a really heartfelt number in the show with ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’, so I’m really looking forward to staging that.
You grew up in the East Midlands, how do you feel about opening this new production of 42nd Street here at Curve?
Growing up in Nottingham I was lucky to have some of the best regional theatres on my doorstep, but if you wanted
to see musical theatre you went to Leicester. This will be the first time I’ve directed a show for Curve, which has always been a dream.
You’ve also directed The Drifters Girl, which comes to Curve in the autumn on its upcoming tour. What can you tell us about this show?
I’m very proud of The Drifters Girl and I’m glad regional audiences will get a chance to see this extraordinary story about the woman behind one of the greatest bands of the 20th Century, Faye Treadwell. It’s a tour de force both musically and theatrically for the performers. In the West End we’d have audiences standing up and dancing
in the aisles because of the energy of the cast and the memories evoked by the music. I’m incredibly excited to be bringing it to Leicester and I hope its audiences will find it a rich and rewarding night.
To find out more about upcoming performances at Curve, visit: www.curveonline.co.uk