42nd Street

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42nd Street

Harry Warren, Al Dubin, Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble, Bradford Ropes

Full Length Musical, Comedy  /  7f, 6m

Music by Harry Warren / Lyrics by Al Dubin / Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble / Based on the Novel by Bradford Ropes / Original Direction and Dances by Gower Champion / Originally Produced on Broadway by David Merrick

The ultimate show-biz musical! 42nd Street celebrates Broadway, Times Square and the people who make the magic of musical theatre.

Photo: Chris Bennion

42nd Street
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OVERVIEW

  • Cast Size
    Cast Size
    7f, 6m
  • Duration
    Duration
    More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre
    Subgenre
    Romantic Comedy
  • Audience
    Target Audience
    • Appropriate for all audiences
Accolades
Accolades
  • Winner! Two 1981 Tony Awards, including Best Musical
    Winner! Two 1981 Drama Desk Awards
    Winner! 1981 Theatre World Award (Wanda Richert)
    Winner! Two 2001 Tony Awards, including Best Revival
    Winner! 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical
Description
Come along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway! 42nd Street celebrates Broadway, Times Square and the magic of show biz with wit, humor and pizzazz. At the height of the Great Depression, aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer comes to the big city from Allentown PA, and soon lands her first big job in the ensemble of a glitzy new Broadway show. But just before opening night, the leading lady breaks her ankle. Will Peggy be able to step in and become a star? The score is chock-full of Broadway standards, including "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me," "Dames," "We're In the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and "Forty-Second Street."
History
42nd Street opened on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on August 25, 1980, starring Wanda Richert, Jerry Orbach, and Tammy Grimes. The production eventually moved to the Majestic and St. James Theatres, ultimately running for 3,486 performances. In 2001, the first Broadway revival of 42nd Street ran for 1,524 performances at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, starring Kate Levering, Michael Cumpsty, and Christine Ebersole.

Act I

In New York City in 1933, dance director Andy Lee auditions kids for the chorus of a new show called Pretty Lady ("Audition"). The show's writers, Bert and Maggie, like what they see on stage, but they warn the dancers that at $4.40 per seat, the audience will demand some spectacular dancing. Young hopeful Peggy Sawyer arrives late, just missing the audition. Billy, the show's romantic lead, helps her see the producer, Julian Marsh ("Young and Healthy"). Julian has no patience for latecomers, and Peggy rushes off the stage. Julian tells Bert and Maggie he's worried about some of the cast, especially Dorothy Brock, the leading lady. Her last hit was ten years earlier, but her sugar daddy, Abner Dillon, is backing the show. When Dorothy and Abner arrive, Julian suggests that Dorothy audition. Abner reminds Julian that Dorothy does not have to try out for anyone, but Dorothy sings anyway ("Shadow Waltz").

Realizing she has forgotten her purse, Peggy returns to the stage. Maggie invites her to lunch with three of the girls, and the five women dance off stage. As they settle in at the Gypsy Tea Kettle, the girls are astonished by Peggy's naïveté. They amusingly explain the Broadway facts of life, and dance back to the theater ("Go into Your Dance"). The number evolves into an audition for Peggy, who impresses Julian and lands a job in the chorus.

Dorothy and Billy begin rehearsing their big love scene. Abner objects to their kissing and insists they shake hands instead ("You're Getting to be a Habit With Me"). Peggy, weak and overcome by an exciting day, faints on stage. She is carried to Dorothy's dressing room, where Pat Denning, Dorothy's real boyfriend, is waiting. Dorothy walks in, and misreading what she sees, thinks that Pat is two-timing her. Julian suggests that Pat leave town.

The company packs up for previews in Philadelphia ("Getting Out of Town"), and dress rehearsals begin ("Dames"). After rehearsal, Peggy invites Julian to join her at an impromptu cast party. Captivated by her charm, Julian decides to go. Dorothy, who misses Pat, drinks a bit too much, and tells Abner to take his money and leave. Abner is ready to close the show, but the kids talk him out of it. Pretty Lady opens spectacularly with "We're In the Money." But when Dorothy rushes onstage for the Act I finale, Peggy accidentally knocks her down, injuring her leg. Julian, furious, fires Peggy and cancels the rest of the performance.

Act II

The second act opens with a doctor telling Julian that Dorothy's ankle is broken. Julian says he will close Pretty Lady for good, but the cast won't give up ("Sunny Side to Every Situation"). The cast thinks that Peggy can save the day, and Julian finally agrees. Peggy has already left for the train station, so Julian rushes after her. Telling her to "think of musical comedy, the most glorious words in the English language," Julian convinces Peggy to return ("Lullaby of Broadway").

Peggy has exactly 36 hours to learn 25 pages, 6 songs, and 10 dance numbers. As Julian says, by the next evening, he'll have "either a live leading lady or a dead chorus girl!" At long last, the Broadway curtain opens on Pretty Lady ("Shuffle Off to Buffalo"). The show is a spectacular hit, and Peggy Sawyer is a sudden sensation. Julian leads the entire company in celebrating the glory of "Forty-Second Street."

Considerations

Performing Groups
  • Jr High/Primary
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Dinner Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Large Stage
  • Youth/Camp Programs

Licence details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Specifics

Details

  • Time Period: 1930s
  • Duration: More than 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: New York City and Philadelphia. 1933.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

7f, 6m
Cast Attributes
  • Expandable casting
  • Room for Extras
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Principals
(4 female; 3 male)

Dorothy Brock — an established Broadway star
Peggy Sawyer — young, talented and hopeful
Maggie Jones — co-author of Pretty Lady
Ann Reilly (Anytime Annie) — chorus girl, sub-principal of Pretty Lady
Julian Marsh — Broadway director/producer
Billy Lawlor — juvenile lead of Pretty Lady
Bert Barry — co-author of Pretty Lady

Featured Roles (from Chorus)
(3 female; 3 male)

Phyllis Dale — chorus girl
Lorraine Flemming — chorus girl
Gladys — chorus girl; singer, non-speaking
Andy Lee — dance director
Pat Denning — former vaudeville partner of Dorothy’s
Abner Dillon — “angel” for Pretty Lady

Supporting Roles

Diane Lorimer — chorus girl
Ethel — chorus girl
Oscar — rehearsal pianist
Mac — stage manager
Frankie — stagehand
Young Man with Clipboard — stagehand
2 Thugs — employees of gangster Nick Murphy; one of them non-speaking
Doctor — Philadelphia theatre physician
Waiter — Gypsy Tea Kettle employee
Millie — dancer; non-speaking
Willard — theatre electrician; non-speaking
Robin — dancer; non-speaking
2 Policemen — dancers; non-speaking
Pickpocket/Thief — dancer; non-speaking
Young Soldier — dancer; non-speaking
Gangster — dancer; non-speaking
Conductor — the music director of the theatre pit orchestra; non-speaking

Ensemble

Various Kids’ Voices
Theatre Personnel
Singers and Dancers of the Chorus

The original Broadway production had a cast of 48 performers, including chorus. Some doubling was employed in the minor parts.

 

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway
  • Dance Requirements: Moderate
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Medium
  • Chorus Size: Large

Act I

1. Overture & Opening Act One – Orchestra & Dancers
2. “Young And Healthy” – Peggy & Billy
3. In Four: “Shadow Waltz” – Maggie
3a. In Three: “Shadow Waltz” – Dorothy
3b. Production: “Shadow Waltz” – Dorothy & Girls
3c. Reprise: “Shadow Waltz” – Dorothy
4. Scene Change: Go Into Your Dance – Orchestra
5. “Go Into Your Dance” – Maggie, Peggy, Annie, Phyllis, Lorraine, & Andy
5a. Tag: Go Into Your Dance – Orchestra
6. “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me” – Dorothy
6a. Scene Change: You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me – Orchestra
6b. Incidental: You’re Getting to Be A Habit With Me – Orchestra
7. “Getting Out Of Town” – Maggie, Bert, Pat & Chorus
8. “Dames” – Billy & Chorus
9. Scene Change/Underscore: You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me & Young and Healthy – Orchestra
10. “I Know Now” – Dorothy, Billy, & Chorus
11. Intro/Underscore: We’re In the Money – Orchestra
11a. “We’re In The Money” – Annie, Phyllis, Lorraine, Peggy, Billy, & Chorus
11b. Playoff: We’re In The Money – Orchestra
12. Act One Finale: Forty-Second Street – Orchestra
12a. Act One Finale Continued: “Forty-Second Street” – Dorothy

Act II

13. Entr’acte – Orchestra
14. “There’s A Sunny Side To Ev’ry Situation” – Annie & Chorus
14a. Incidental/Scene Change: There’s A Sunny Side To Ev’ry Situation – Orchestra
14b. Underscore: There’s A Sunny Side To Every Situation – Orchestra
14c. Scene Change: There’s A Sunny Side To Every Situation – Orchestra
15. “Lullaby Of Broadway” – Julian, Billy, Andy, Bert, Annie, Phyllis, Lorraine, Gladys, Maggie, Abner, & Chorus
15a. Playoff: Lullaby of Broadway – Orchestra
16. Montage – Orchestra
17. Playoff: Dames – Orchestra
18. Scene Change: About A Quarter To Nine – Orchestra
19. “About A Quarter To Nine” – Dorothy & Peggy
19a. Playoff: About A Quarter To Nine – Orchestra
20. Pretty lady – Scene Change: Dames – Orchestra
21. “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” – Bert, Maggie, Annie, & Girls
22. “Forty-Second Street” – Peggy & Dancers
23. Finale Act Two: “Forty Second Street” – Julian
24. Bows – Full Company
25. Exit Music – Orchestra

Full Orchestration

Reed 1: Flute, Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone & Alto Saxophone
Reed 2: Piccolo, Flute, Clarinet & Alto Saxophone
Reed 3: Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
Reed 4: Clarinet & Tenor Saxophone
Reed 5: Clarinet, Bass Clarinet & Baritone Saxophone

Horn
Trumpet 1 & 2 (1st Trumpet optional double on Flugelhorn)
Trumpet 3
Trombone 1
Trombone 2 (with Bass attachment)

Bass
Percussion:

Timpani (2 Drums)
Bells
Xylophone
Vibraphone
Wood Block
Triangle
Bass Drum
Snare Drum (Brushes & Sticks)
Tom Toms (Several Sizes)
Cymbals:
Suspended
Hi-Hat
Splash
Crash
Ride

Piano (pit orchestra Piano, Celeste & Stage Piano)

Materials

Scripts

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
40 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Reed 1
1 Reed 2
1 Reed 3
1 Reed 4
1 Reed 5
1 Horn
2 Trumpet 1&2
1 Trumpet 3
1 Trombone 1
1 Trombone 2
1 Percussion
1 Piano
1 Guitar
1 Harp
1 Bass
1 Optional Guitar / Banjo
1 Optional Harp
1 Optional Reed Substitute Keyboard Synthesizer part covering the music for the five Reeds is available.
1 Optional Song Insert: "I Only Have Eyes for You"

Piano Only:
1 Piano/Conductor Score
40 Libretto/Vocal Books
1 Optional Song Insert: "I Only Have Eyes for You"

Media

Press

"An old-fashioned glamour musical that kept on giving when others would have called it quits." - Ann Treneman, The Times

“Gower Champion’s final display of blazing theatrical fireworks” - Frank Rich, The New York Times

"Dazzling and deliriously joyous...From the costumes and choreography to the divine melodies, deliciously smart lyrics and hugely talented cast, this show has glories to spare." - Stefan Kyriazis, The Daily Express

“An American classic...'Hear the beat of dancing feet'...It’s an extraordinary, spine-tingling sound...size is absolutely everything in this shiny, streamlined homage to a vanished world of razzmatazz." - Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph

"Mesmerising! From the opening moments of 42nd Street you know you are in for a good night... Quentin Letts, The Daily Mail

"As American as a McDonald’s apple pie, a steaming, golden spectacle of showbiz glamour...this show socks you over the head with good old-fashioned spectacle." - Alice Saville, TimeOut London

Music Samples

Videos

  • 42nd Street at the London Palladium

  • "Lullaby of Broadway" with Jerry Orbach

More videos +

Photos

  • 42nd Street

    Credit: Chris Bennion

  • 42nd Street

    Credit: Chris Bennion

More

Authors

Harry Warren

Harry Warren (1893-1981) and his writing partner Al Dubin were legendary tunesmiths, both as a team and as individuals. Between the two, their prodigious careers spanned six decades. Warren & Dubin wrote several Broadway musicals and revues, including White Lights (1927) and Streets of Paris (1 ...

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Al Dubin

Al Dubin (1891-1945) and his writing partner Harry Warren were legendary tunesmiths, both as a team and as individuals. Between the two, their prodigious careers spanned six decades. Warren & Dubin wrote several Broadway musicals and revues, including White Lights (1927) and Streets of Paris (1 ...

View full profile

Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart (1924-1987) scored on Broadway the first time when he won a Tony Award for his Bye Bye Birdie libretto. He was the librettist for Carnival (Drama Critics Circle Award) and Hello, Dolly!, which earned him both a Tony and Drama Critics prize. Stewart also wrote the lyrics for ...

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Mark Bramble

Mark Bramble was nominated for a 2001 Tony Award for his work on 42nd Street. He began his theatrical career working for David Merrick. He directed 42nd Street in London, Tokyo, Sydney and Amsterdam and is the author of Barnum (Tony Award nomination for Best Book and Best Musical) and ...

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Author

Bradford Ropes

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