Review: 42nd Street (Paramount Theatre)

| January 27, 2014
Tyler Hanes stars as Billy Lawlor in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)        
      
42nd Street

By Harry Warren (music), Al Dubin (lyrics),
   Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble (book),
Directed by Rachel Rockwell
at Paramount Theatre, Aurora (map)
thru Feb 9  |  tickets: $37-$50   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                   Read review
     


  
  

Tap your blues, and the cold, away!

     

Tyler Hanes stars as Billy Lawlor in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)

    
Paramount Theatre presents
    
42nd Street

Review by Catey Sullivan 

Nothing on God’s Green Earth banishes the winter blues better than a good-old fashioned tap extravaganza. Gray skies and slushy sidewalks got you down? Make for the Paramount Theatre in Aurora, take a seat and then just try not to break into an open-umbrella sized grin when the curtain rises on the dancing feet of 42nd Street.

Laura Savage and Tyler Hanes star in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)Directed by Rachel Rockwell and choreographed by Tammy Mader, 42nd Street is a glorious throwback to a wholesome, hopeful era when a wide-eyed gal from Allentown, Pa. could arrive at the Port Authority Bus Station with nothing more than suitcase and a pair of tap shoes, and time-step her way into a full-throttle Broadway dream. So it goes for ingénue Peggy Sawyer (Laura Savage), a fresh-faced blonde with a spring in her step and a bounce to her curls as she sets off to audition for legendary impressario Julian Marsh. You wouldn’t know it to look at the ever-perky Peggy, but the Great Depression is on with a vengeance. For aspiring young hoofers, the chorus line was the only way to avoid the breadline.

Wisely, Rockwell starts with the absolute heart of the show, in this case, a panoramic view of dozens of tapping feet from the knees down, dancers’ upper bodies obscured by a blood red stage curtain. The glimpse is tantalizing, energizing and kinetically beautiful a hi-octane preview (powered by musical director Doug Peck‘s crackerjack 17-piece, band.) Unwrap your candy before the overture starts – you’ll want to hear every one of composer Harry Warren‘s gloriously realized notes emanating from the orchestra.

The story (book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble) is a modern-day fable; a testament to sticking to the convictions of your dreams. When the going gets tough, the tough get dancing.

The kids are working their feet to the bone in the service of the gruff but affectionate director Julian Marsh (Larry Adams, a crack-the-whip, no-nonsense disciplinarian on the outside, a can-do dreamer on inside) Things are going swimmingly for Peggy, who inveigles her way into the cast by showing her superior skills as she tapped her way to the local luncheonette. Tragedy (or at least what passes for tragedy in a musical comedy) strikes when Dorothy Brock (Catherine Lord, whose world-weary been-there-seen-that cynicism can’t mask the indomitable soul of a gypsy trooper) takes a bad fall and is out of the show faster than you can say Busby Berkeley. It falls to Peggy to save the day and ensure that the show will go on. Can she do it? We won’t indulge in spoilers on the off chance that someone out there isn’t familiar with the narrative, but suffice to say you won’t find any chorines in the breadline in 42nd Street.

Larry Adams and Peggy Sawyer in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren) Tyler Hanes in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)
Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren) Catherine Lord, James Rank and Laura Savage in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)

Director Rockwell paces the production marvelously, holding back just enough so that when the all-hands-on-deck "Lullaby of Broadway" kicks in, there’s room for an extravagant swell of joyful noise, a veritable cascade of color and sound and gorgeously synchronized dancing. The power of all those tapping toes makes it seem as if your own heart beat is pounding in perfect 4/4 time.

Indeed, Mader’s choreography is the real star of 42nd Street. Basing her work on the show’s original dances by Gower Champion, Mader has her cast leaping, strutting and soaring to life. The exquisitely unison kick lines will make your heart jump with joy; the giggly ebullience of "We’re in the Money’ will have you bouncing in your seat, and the saucy, hanky-panky filled "Shuffle off to Buffalo" will leave you yearning to book the next sleeper to Niagara.

With a 27-person cast of triple threat singer/dancer/actors backed by a richly talented orchestra, 42nd Street is bursting with taptacular wonders. The production would stand out in any season, but in the doldrums of winter, it’s nothing short of an oasis of light and warmth.

  
Rating: ★★★★
  
   

42nd Street continues through February 9th at Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena, Aurora (map), with performances Wednesdays 1:30 and 7:30pm, Thursdays 7:30pm, Fridays 8pm, Saturdays 3 and 8pm, Sundays 1pm and 5:30pm.  Tickets are $37-$50, and are available by phone (630-896-6666) or online through their website (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at ParamountAurora.com(Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes, includes an intermission)

Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)

Photos by Liz Lauren


     

artists

cast

Richard Strimer (Andy Lee), Larry Baldacci (Mac), Dina DiCostanzo (Annie), Nancy Voigts (Maggie Jones), Michael Weber (Bert Berry), Tyler Hanes (Billy Lawlor), Laura Savage (Peggy Sawyer), Tiffany Trainer (Lorraine), Amy Orman (Phyllis), Larry Adams (Julian Marsh), Catherine Lord (Dorothy Brock), Roger Mueller (Abner Dillon), James Rank (Pat Denning), Larry Baldacci (Thug), Kelley Abell, Kelsey Andres, William Carlos Angulo, Larry Baldacci, Jaclyn Burch, Matthew Crowle, Brian M. Duncan, Andy Frank, Jonathan Kwock, Alex McCrary, Nathan Mittleman, Mandy Modic, Katheryn Patton, Steven Spanopoulos, Lucy Zukaitis

orchestra

Doug Peck (conductor, piano), Paul Mertens, John Kornegay, John Wojciechowski, Matt Wifler, Tim McNamara (woodwinds), Joel Benway (French Horn), Larry Bowen, Doug Scharf, Endre Rice (trumpets), Scott Bentall (trombone), Art Linsner (bass trombone), Daniel Anderson (bass), George Blanchet (percussion), Scott Reed (guitar, banjo), Marcia LaBella (harp), Deb Stevenson (orchestra contractor)

behind the scenes

Rachel Rockwell (director), Doug Peck (music director), Tammy Mader (choreography), Kevin Depinet (set design), Theresa Ham (costume design), Greg Hofmann (lighting design), Palmer Jankens (sound design), Anna Henson (projections design), Liviu Pasare (asst. projections design), Penny Lane Studios (wig design), Sarah E. Ross (props design), Rose Marie Packer (stage manager), Rebecca Louise Fischer (asst. stage manager), Beth Ellen Spencer (Broadway production manager), Jennette Nohl (Broadway company manager), Jason Pikscher (Broadway technical director), Jim Corti (artistic director), Tim Rater (president, CEO), Matt Guthier (costume shop manager), Liz Lauren (photos).

Nancy Voigts in Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)

Paramount Theatre's "42nd Street," directed by Rachel Rockwell, music directed by Doug Peck. (photo credit: Liz Lauren)

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Category: 2014 Reviews, Catey Sullivan, Musical, Paramount Theatre

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