The Rhythm Method…
Recent chatter on my, ahem, tap dance group’s WhatsApp, highlighted a 48 hour window in which you could watch the 2017 London stage production of 42nd Street on YouTube’s The Shows Must Go On channel. I’m not a great fan of a lot of musical theatre, but I settled down on a dark, dank Sunday afternoon to give this one a go.
The pluses were a couple of outstanding tap dance ensemble pieces and a few of the better known songs (Lullaby of Broadway, We’re in the Money, Keep Young and Beautiful). The minuses were the rather tired storyline (but probably novel in the 1930s when Busby Berkeley choreographed the original movie’s dance sequences) and, a real bête noir of mine, musical theatre acting.
And I don’t think these days it would pass muster in real life to have the director show how a romantic scene should play out by snogging the young wannabe starlet when alone in rehearsals!
Still, it was worth seeing the theatrical show on screen (once!) and I’d go and see a good production of it on stage if only for the big ensemble pieces, but, and here’s a smart tip, you can also see a truncated view of the highlights and save yourself about 2¼ hours of musical theatre acting by viewing the trailer instead!
Having said all that…
… I almost stopped watching the full show quite early on when some of the footwork entered the ‘I can do it really, really fast’ school of tap dance. Maybe it’s because I’m not very good and will never be ‘fast’, but I do think there is a place for well choreographed rhythm-orientated tapping. Take, for example, this piece inspired by Anna Kendrick’s Cups routine from the film Pitch Perfect (one of the BTL comments on the video is a bit too close to home for me: This called me untalented in 800 languages!).
If anyone likes rhythmic theatrical productions sans ‘musical theatre acting’, I can also recommend a trip to see Stomp if there is ever a stage revival of it – it ran for 15 years in London’s West End until January 2018. I saw it twice and would happily see it again. You can still catch its trailer on YouTube…
Here’s the limerick:
An enthusiast thought t’would be neat
To rhythmically stomp in the street
But a tragic mishap
When he started to tap
Was to find that he had two left feet!