Dancing up a storm

Chesterfield Operatic Society. '42nd Street'. L-R, Dawn Melloy,Roseanna Sanderson, Karl Brennan, Andy Moore.
Chesterfield Operatic Society. '42nd Street'. L-R, Dawn Melloy,Roseanna Sanderson, Karl Brennan, Andy Moore.

One of Chesterfield Operatic Society’s great strengths has always been its dancers - and 42nd Street, the ultimate old-fashioned backstage musical, makes the most of all that talent.

The company tap dance their way with gusto through favourite numbers like Young and Healthy, We’re in the Money and Shuffle Off to Buffalo, and deal with multiple quick costume changes and 1940s wigs without a hiccup.

A few strange noises emerged from the orchestra pit, but it was the first night, after all.

The set is simple, with Broadway, Philadelphia and a railway station suggested by back-projected black and white images, and imaginative lighting doing much of the work.

It’s down to the players, established and new, to fill the stage with life and colour, and they pick up the task and run away with it.

Julie Metcalfe, Paula Wilson and Alison Doram, experienced hoofers and seasoned players all, play a cynical trio of old stagers who have seen it all. They lead a youthful chorus line any Broadway show would be proud of.

Karl Brennan is commanding as director Julian Marsh, and makes the most of his solos of both the title song and the showstopper Lullaby of Broadway. Dawn Melloy is in her element as ageing diva Dorothy Brock, hurling abuse at Stetsoned money-man Abner Dillon, played by her real-life husband Doug with an accent more Tayside than Texas.

It’s Andy Moore who gets the laughs, though not the girl, as Billy Lawler, the biggest juvenile in town. He shows himself to be no mean dancer too, and so does Sarah Morrell in her first leading role as writer Maggie Jones, which she plays with great personality and a belting voice.

And then there’s Roseanna Sanderson, in her first leading role for the Operatics. She and Peggy Sawyer, the girl from Pennsylvania who goes out a youngster and comes back a star, have a lot in common. Both have a naïve charm. Both are young and ambitious. And both can dance up a storm.

Dancing is clearly Roseanna’s comfort zone; her singing and acting will polish up as she gains experience, but she relaxes into the big tap numbers like a veteran.

Full marks to ace choreographers Julie Metcalfe and Paula Wilson for coming out well on the right side of the Operatics’ biggest challenge in years.

It’s at the Pomegranate till Saturday - but hurry to pick up the few remaining tickets.