42nd Street at The Theatre at the Center

 

 The Song & Dance Fable of Broadway

Music by Harry Warren

Lyrics by Al Dubin

Directed by William Pullinsi

Choreographed by Linda Fortunato

Music Direction by William Underwood

At The Theatre at the Center, Munster, IN

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

High energy dances fuel fine production of 42nd Street

Theatre at the Center, under the classical direction by William Pullinsi and the smart choreography by Linda Fortunato, have presented a most enjoyable and free-flowing, high energy take on the song and dance fable of Broadway – 42nd Street.

Based on the 1933 film that saved Warner Brothers studio,  producer David Merrick , pandering to 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.

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.  The work also features the Broadway anthem “The Lullaby of Broadway” plus the jazz-driven dance epic title tune “42nd Street.” Charm, humor and a most likable cast of characters make us care about these struggling performers.

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.

What makes Pullinsi and Fortunato’s 42nd Street production at The Theatre at the Center so enjoyable is the light tone that makes the show not take itself too seriously since it is a fable. Larry Adams, as the demanding director, Julian Marsh is verbose and loud while Paula Scrofano plays Dorothy Brock as with loads of humor and spunk. Scrofano soars with her cute “About a Quarter to Nine.”  Nathan Mittleman, as Billy Lawlor has boyish looks, a nice tenor voice and superb dancing skill. Dale Benson, as Abner Dillon, is a hoot as the sugar-daddy. Annie, Jenny Guse  and Tom Moore, Bert are the composers who sing and offer comedic bits that are endearing.

But what makes this 42nd Street sizzle is the terrific performance by Nicole Miller, as the chorus girl, Peggy Sawyer, who, in her first show on Broadway, saves the the show by stepping in, at the last minute, to cover the star. Miller’s dancing is expert, her singing and acting is renders Sawyer as the true ingenue who becomes a star right before our eyes.

The costumes (by Brenda Winstead), the music (music direction by William Underwood) was first-class making this production more than a general regional theatre production. It evokes a extravagant look and the youthful dances sparked Gower Champion’s tap induced dances, faithfully recreated by Linda Fortunato, into a enticing trip backstage into a Broadway fable. We are grabbed from the first  tap number and carried through the dance-a-thon into two hours plus of toe-tapping, often breathtaking, dances that pleases our senses. Who doesn’t love a tap show? This 42nd Street is worth the ride to Munster – you’ll be taping your way home after being enthralled with this 42md Street. Don’t miss it!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: September 16, 2102

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout  the 42nd Street page at theatreinchicago.com

At The Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster, IN, call 219-836-3255, www.theatreatthecenter.com, tickets $38 – $42, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 2 pm, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 2 hours, 40 minutes with intermission, through October 21, 2012