Transformation Tunesday: "42nd Street"

Last updated May 12th, 2020 by BroadwayBox Staff
Transformation Tunesday: "42nd Street"

It's "Transformation Tunesday" here at BroadwayBox! We're going to explore the exciting transformations your favorite Broadway tunes have morphed into over the years with thanks to innovative Broadway revivals.

Transformation Tune: "42nd Street" from 42nd Street, by Al Dubin and Harry Warren

1980 - Original Broadway Production

Our reaction when we found this video was priceless. The original Broadway cast of 42nd Street starring Wanda Richert and Lee Roy Reams appeared where else - the Miss Universe Pageant. The broadcast, introduced by BOB BARKER (all caps), aired the entire Broadway finale "tap ballet" and we are the luckier for it.

How glorious to hear that tap ensemble on television. The set even got a huge round of applause before one shuffle ball change happened! Gower Champion's choreography was so lyrical for tap dancing - big movements all the while so gorgeously syncopated. Absolutely love Lee Roy and Wanda's first subtle interactions at 3:38 where their romance begins. We love the head pop moments at 4:40 which are not subtle at. all. The entire ensemble is so strong and those taps are crystal clear.

Huge props go to the music arrangers and orchestrators which allowed the company's taps be center stage. I mean how can it get more marvelous than 4:53 when Lee Roy explodes into a tap break which Wanda then mirrors. This whole section launches into the jazz/tap dance conversation section which is out of this world for the two. 7:41 to the end (long clip but it is worth it!) is drama and old fashioned Broadway/everything we love about musicals.

2001 - Broadway Revival

Oh how we wish we had the whole title song ballet as we have for the original for this shiny, sequined revival. Kate Levering (who has the best Broadway Golden Age facial expressions - you'll see) was perfection as Peggy Sawyer with the charming David Elder as Billy Lawlor. Side note: his "Dames" on the revival's cast album is divine.

Directed by Mark Bramble, the revival had new choreography by Randy Skinner who also served as the musical stager. How that enormous, talented cast tap danced on that staircase we will never know! Once again, props to the orchestrators for allowing the taps to take center stage. 0:59 - 1:15 - we have no words. How we love these big tap dancing musicals and if you ever needed an example - refer to that time stamp!