42nd Street

Music by Harry Warren42nd street at marriott theatre

Lyrics by Al Dubin

Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble

Directed by Rachel Rockwell

Music direction by Doug Peck

Choreographed by Tammy Mader

At Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire, IL

“Come and Meet Those Dancing Feet on the Avenue I’m Taking You to -42nd Street!”

Based on the 1933 film that saved Warner Brothers studio,  producer David Merrick , believing that the  1980 nostalgia craze, decided to mount 42nd Street on stage. Directed  by Gower Champion with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, 42nd Street became an extravaganza not seen on Broadway in decades. From the show’s opening that featured 40 dancers to the terrific energetic show-stoppers, Merrick’ concept led to a run of 3,486 performances. People love tap shows! The 2001 revival of 42nd Street ran for 1524 performances followed by a successful national tour and several worthy regional productions at Candlelight, Drury Lane and Marriott in Chicago.

42nd Street at marriott theatre

Kudos to Marriott Theatre for remounting 42nd Street! Great classical Broadway Musicals need to be produced every few years so that the next generation can enjoy the art form. Director Rachel Rockwell and choreographer Tammy Mader have mounted a slick, splashy, spirited production of the quintessential backstage  musical fable. 42nd Street is a pure 1930’s style musical about how an ingenue saved a major new musical just before the first preview.

42nd street at marriott theatre

Yes, Peggy Sawyer (Kaitlyn Davidson) the cutie from Allentown arrives to audition for famed director Julian Marsh’s (the commanding Tom Galantich) new musical – Pretty Lady. She meets the womanizer Billy Lawlor (Drew Humphrey) and has a run-in with Marsh.  She doesn’t get cast but the girls from the chorus take her to lunch where see dancers for them and choreographer Andy Lee (Andrew Lupp). When Marsh finds he needs another girl in the line, Sawyer get the gig.

42nd street at marriott theatre

Meanwhile, the show’s star, Dorothy Brock ( Catherine Lord) – is a  past her prime Prima Donna, renowned for inability to dance but she dates the show’s backer Abner Dillion (Roger Mueller) so Marsh must adapt the show to Brock’s abilities. During the rehearsal of a dance number, Brock collides with Sawyer causing the star to break her ankle. Brock blames Sawyer for the injury and Marsh fires Sawyer on the spot.  Marsh decides to cancel the show since the star is unable to perform. The cast convinces Marsh that Sawyer can do the part so the show can go on. Marsh rushes to the train station to convince Sawyer to take the part. After the rousing anthem “Lullaby of Broadway” sung by Galantich’s Marsh and the entire cast, Peggy agrees to do the show. Rejoice! A star is born in the best tradition of backstage fables.

42nd street at marriott theatre

What makes this musical extravaganza so entertaining is the bouncy, melodious score by Harry Warren that contains rhythmic tap music, a cute waltz, toe-tapping jazzy tunes that explode into exuberant dances. “Go Into Your Dance,” “Dames” – Ziefeld Follies-styled together with the spectacular tap number “We’re In The Money” highlight act one.  Charm, humor and a most likable cast of characters make us care about these struggling performers.

42nd street at marriott theatre

Act two features the moving anthem “Lullaby of Broadway,” “About a Quarter to Nine” and the cute sardonic “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.” The show ends with a hauntingly stylish and riveting dance to the sophisticated “42nd Street” song.

42nd street at marriott theatre

The Marriott Theatre demonstrates their superb production values with Doug Peck’s excellent music direction, Nancy Missimi’s brilliant costumes and, of course, the fabulous smoothy dancing by the cast. I’ve not seen a smarter tap ensemble led by Drew Humphrey and Kaitlyn Davidson with Chicago favorites Andrew Lupp, Richard Strimer, Matt Raftery, Dina DiCostanzo, Ericka Mac and Johanna McKenzie Miller just to name a few. Michael Weber and Nancy Voigts offer hilarious turns as the composers.

This fast-paced musical keeps the great tunes flowing; the eye-popping costumes and the humorous characters keep us engaged while the music keeps our toes-tapping. This show is a flawless, high-energy, wonderfully danced and sung fable that leaves audiences humming the songs long after the show’s over.  A big, bold and brassy musical is never out of style – especially a major tap dance show such as 42nd Street. It  is a wonderful show to  introduce youngsters to the joys of Broadway.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: April 10, 2011

Jeff Recommended

For full show information, go to the 42nd Street page at TheatreinChicago

At Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, IL, RT 21 & Rt 45, 847-634-0200, www.marriotttheatre.com, tickets $41 – $49, Wednesdays at 1 & 8 pm, Thursdays & Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 4:30 & 8 pm, Sundays at 1 & 5 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30  minutes with intermission, through May 29, 2011

Here are some highlights from 42nd Street:

“We’re In The Money” from Pittsford Musicals production of 42nd Street:

From the Tony Awards: