42nd Street is a hugely successful Broadway stage musical, loosely based on the movie of the same name. It also contains songs from certain other Busby Berkeley 1930s movies. Produced by David Merrick, the original cast included Jerry Orbach, who played the role of musical director Julian Marsh.
42nd Street won the Tony Awards for Choreography (Gower Champion) and Best Musical. It also was nominated for Tony awards for Actor (Featured Role—Musical, Lee Roy Reams), Actress (Featured Role—Musical, Wanda Richert), Book (Musical, Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble), Costume Designer (Theoni V. Aldredge), Director (Gower Champion), and Lighting Designer (Tharon Musser).
In London, 42nd Street won the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical in 1984.
42nd Street was revived in 2001, at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts (which, in a slight marketing gimmick, is actually on 42nd Street in New York City, unlike the Winter Garden on Broadway at 50th). The revival was produced by Joop van den Ende. In the original cast, Michael Cumpsty played the Julian Marsh role, and Christine Ebersole played Dorothy Brock. This revival closed on January 2, 2005 after playing 31 previews, 1524 regular performances, and one Actors' Fund performance.
The revival won Tonys for best Actress in a Musical (Christine Ebersole) and best Musical Revival. It also was nominated for the awards for Actress (Featured Role—Musical, two nominations, (Kate Levering and Mary Testa), Choreographer (Randy Skinner), Set Designer (Douglas W. Schmidt), Costume Designer (Roger Kirk), Director (Musical, Mark Bramble), and Lighting Designer (Paul Gallo).
42nd Street features the career of up-and-coming chorus girl Peggy Sawyer, who hails from Allentown, Pennsylvania, and arrives in New York City seeking a Broadway career. After gathering her courage for hours, she enters to audition for Julian Marsh's new musical, Pretty Lady.
Marsh is a director trying to get on top after the Great Depression with one last musical. Unfortunately, the audition is over when Peggy arrives.
Luckily for her, the suave tenor lead of Pretty Lady, Billy Lawlor, is attracted to Peggy and gets her to sing with him and get noticed by Julian, who puts her in the show as a chorus girl. Despite his help to her, Billy is turned down when he asks her out. The lead of the musical is Dorothy Brock, who was cast for the sole reason that her boyfriend Abner Dillon (inventor of the "kiddie-car") is the show's angel. Although Julian thinks the prima-donna Brock is past her prime, his writers Burt and Maggie as well as Abner insist she be the star. At a pre-production party, Billy attampts to ask out Peggy again but she turns him down again, this time making him frustrated. And also, Julian discovers Dorothy is seeing her old boyfriend Pat Denning behind Abner's back. Seeing as how this could destroy the show's funding if Abner found out, he is forced to cover for Dorothy.
Then, during Pretty Lady's opening night, Peggy accidentally trips and pushes Dorothy Brock, causing her to fall and break her ankle. After this, Julian fires Peggy, and she decides to return to Allentown.
Now out of work, Billy and the cast convince Julian to replace Dorothy with Peggy in order to continue the show. At the train station, Julian tries to convince Peggy to stay, singing to her: "Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway...." And after Billy, Burt, Maggie, Abner and the rest of the cast join the song, she decides to stay and do the musical.
Forced to learn the part in two days, Peggy has a nervous breakdown but is convinced to resume the show by her friends, an unexpected visit from Dorothy, and Julian, who kisses her during rehearsal to cover for Billy, and once in her dressing room to ease her emotions stating: "That, before, that was just acting. This one, I mean", much to the chagrin of a still angry Billy. The show is a huge success and pushes Peggy into stardom. After receiving a request to go to the "formal" after party by writers Maggie and Burt; Billy, in a last ditch effort, invites her to the kids party on a date, despite the fact that he was not made famous by the show and still just a kid from the chorus. Peggy accepts, restoring Billy's confidence(and his somewhat cocky demeanor) and she convinces Julian to go to the kids' party as well.
The lyrics sung by Marsh to Sawyer, from the song "The Lullaby of Broadway," have become among the best recognized musical lyrics in Broadway history.
List of songs
All music is by Harry Warren and most lyrics are by Al Dubin.
The It Must Be June and possibly Pretty Lady songs from the movie are not featured.