By Harry Warren (music), Al Dubin (lyrics)
Tap-dancing their way into our hearts!
|Theatre at the Center presents|
Review by K.D. Hopkins
Theatre at the Center brings the music and red-hot hoofing of the ‘Escapist’ era of movies to the stage with a new production of 42nd Street. The music and genre comes from the Great Depression, when times were hard and people needed hope and happiness, if only on the silver screen. The story is a tried and true formula but it is done to sparkling perfection here in the heartland of America.
The story of a sweet Peggy Sawyer (Nicole Miller) from Allentown is not all sugar and marabou feathers. Peggy comes to Broadway to audition for her first big show and chickens out in spite of her singing and dancing chops. She is gets taken under the collective wings of the chorus girls – Annie (Jenny Guse), Lorraine (Cara Salerno), and Phyllis (Amy Orman) – and the ever hopeful songwriter Maggie (Amy Brophy, in a standout performance). Peggy also catches the eye of leading man Billy Lawlor (Nathan Mittleman) who gets her into the show.
In spite of the support of the chorines, she has a hurdle to cross with bombastic producer Julian Marsh (Larry Adams) and stage manager Andy Lee (Steven Spanopoulos). Miller is absolutely dazzling as the hopeful from nowhere who gets that one-in-a-million chance. She can hold her own against the great Ruby Keeler, who played the original Peggy in the 1933 film, with a cache of energy and charisma to light up the stage.
The story does not skirt the hard realities of a career on the stage and making ends meet in hard times. The language is mild by today’s standards of coarseness, but the brilliant cast gives it just the right touch of naughty with their comedic talent and body language. The major subplot involves fading Broadway diva Dorothy Brock (Paula Scrofano), her sugar daddy Abner Dillon (Dale Benson) and the man she truly loves Pat Denning (David Besky).
As fading Broadway star Dorothy, Scrofano is both funny and touching. She knows how to put her diva on and command the stage in spite of the Broadway producers’ attempts to hide her faltering talents in a flurry of dancers and chorus girls. Benson is hilarious as the rickety sugar daddy that is underwriting the show. Scrofano and Besky have a nice sexy chemistry that brings the complications of survival and relationships to the fore. Dorothy endures Abner to get a last chance at Broadway before she and Pat can be together, while the director plays hardball to keep the boyfriend out of the picture so that the show can go on. Adams is perfect as the director with the rectitude to make the hard decisions and yet allows Peggy Sawyer to melt his heart and believe in the magic of Broadway. The big kiss between him and Miller is funny and plenty hot to boot.
Standout musical numbers are “Go Into Your Dance”, “We’re In The Money”, “Lullaby of Broadway” and of course “42nd Street”. There is not one false note or step in this show. The singing, choreography, and acting are thrilling. The costumes are gorgeous and era appropriate. Every detail, including the wigs, is just wonderful.
Go see this show. This is a step back into the time when Broadway was at its best and when the magic of the theater seemed real. 42nd Street is definitely worth the trip to Mighty Munster!
42nd Street continues through October 21st at Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge, Munster, IN (map), with performances Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $38-$42, and are available by phone (800-511-1552) or online through Tickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at TheatreAtTheCenter.com. (Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)
Photos by Johnny Knight
Steven Spanopoulos (Andy Lee), Mike Danovich (Mac), Jenny Guse (Annie), Amy Brophy (Maggie Jones), Tom Moore (Bert Barry), Nathan Mittleman (Billy Lawlor), Nicole Miller (Peggy Sawyer), Cara Salerno (Lorraine), Amy Orman (Phyllis), Larry Adams (Julian Marsh), Paula Scrofano (Dorothy Brock), Dale Benson (Abner Dillon), David Besky (Pat Denning), Michael Reckling, Chris Carter (Thugs), Rebecca Bradford, Chris Carter, Amanda Lauren Compton, Mike Danovich, Brian M. Duncan, Allyson J, Graves, Kim Green, Michael Reckling, Johnson Vaughn Brock (ensemble)
behind the scenes
William Pullinsi (director); William A. Underwood (musical director); Linda Fortunato (choreography); Jack Magaw (set); Barry G. Funderburg (sound design); Tim Fandrei (lighting); Lauren Earnshaw (props); Kevin Barthel (wig design); Ann N. Davis (production manager, tech director); Amanda J. Davis (production stage manager); Jill Yetsky (asst. stage manager); Cara Salerno (dance captain); Brenda Winstead (costume coordinator); Julia Zayas-Melendez (asst. costume coordinator); Rachel Anderson (wardrobe supervisor); Stanlee Hodsen (dresser); Dan Barry (lead stage crew); Louis Garcia (sound board operator); Marcus Heffner (stage crew), Mike Leavitt, MTS Systems (orchestral system sequencer); Richard Friedman (general manager); Johnny Knight (photos)
William A. Underwood (conductor, keyboards); Randy Glancy, Linda Slein (keyboard 2), Jean Hoffman (trumpet), Ethan Deppe (percussion)