125th Street

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Previewed 30 August 2002, opened 17 September 2002, closed 11 January 2003 at the Shaftesbury Theatre London

A new musical by Alan Janes and Rob Bettinson 125th Street in London.

Set during one momentous night at the famous Apollo Theatre on New York's 125th Street, this major new musical from the creators of Buddy charts the progress of a group of starstruck hopefuls who might just get some precious seconds in the spotlight when all hell breaks loose during a live TV broadcast. 125th Street delivers a riot of music, mayhem and madness on a night when dreams are made and hearts are broken. The TV talent show, which forms part of the storyline includes a performance froma chosen member of the audience! Rob Bettinson's West End credits include Leonardo the Musical at the Strand Theatre in 1993.

"The idea of 125th Street is that we're in the Apollo Theatre in New York's Harlem where opportunity first knocked for artists such as James Brown and Marvin Gaye at the venue's famous Amateur Night. The story is that anchor man for a live programme, Tony Sorrento, finds his acts have gone missing - including three of The Four Seasons. What happens? They get the backstage hands to fill in their shoes. Meanwhile, out on the streets there's a riot going on. It is 1969 and times are a-changing. Inside the theatre, you wish at first that they would just shut up with all the plot and padding and get on with the acts. My advice is hang in there. You get more than a whiff of real performing talent when the show starts cooking in the second half. The company proves terrific... These renditions are goosepimplingly good. The trouble is: you have to wade through treacle to get to them." The Daily Express

"It's 1969 and a cheesy TV talent show is about to broadcast live from the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Aretha and James Brown haven't showed up; Screaming J Hawkins, Joe Tex and one member of the Four Seasons ain't enough to keep Tony Sorrento's 25m viewers entertained for the next two hours... The TV framing device keeps the show maniacally on the move, as frenzied floor manager Lorrie Kincaid tries to pull both the programme and her career back on track... The second half erupts into a joyous showcase for the blues as at last this dazzling company gets its cue to shine... The joy is in the ensemble work: maybe not one of these performers would be able to hold a show in their own right, but given one or two numbers, they are sensational." The Independent on Sunday

"I don't know what the plans of these versatile and irresistibly attractive performers are for the near future, but I think they should tell their agents that they will not be available for some time. This musical is not about to fold... The plot is pretty routine. The dialogue has a high cliche count. The acting is roughly as broad as it is wide... But the show is driven by a combination of explosive energy, warm-hearted high spirits and steely discipline. The cast act, sing, dance and play instruments. Their final concert is a big, joyous, infectious explosion. These may not be big celebrity stars, but they shine with the best." The Sunday Times

"The new musical 125th Street is essentially a feeble, flabby play by Rob Bettinson and Alan James, followed by a glorious concert celebrating the hits of the Sixties: Piece Of My Heart, When A Man Loves A Woman, Stay With Me Baby - fabulous stuff, but we get too little of it. Set on Amateur Night at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theatre, the place where Dionne Warwick, James Brown, Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson first found fame, it wastes two hours on back-and-front-of-stage shenanigans: the dearth of contestants, the ego of the ghastly presenter, a slot in the spotlight for a young hopeful, before becoming a straightforward tribute show. There's show-stopping talent here in abundance, and it's something to sing about. Pity it's not allowed to move on up." The Mail on Sunday

The musical 125th Street in London at the Shaftesbury Theatre previewed from 30 August 2002, opened on 17 September 2002 and closed on 11 January 2003.

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