42nd Street

Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes42nd Street

Music by Harry Warren

Lyrics by Al Dubin

Book by Michael Steward and Mark Bramble

Directed by David Campbell.

Tapping into South Florida Theatre Scene

Come and meet those dancing feet,
On the avenue I’m taking you to,
Forty-Second Street.
Hear the beat of dancing feet,
It’s the song I love the melody of,
Forty-Second Street.

The day was cloudy and dark. The skies opened and the rain cascaded down in sheets as we ran for the entrance of the Stage Door Theatre for the matinee performance. Just outside, two bright green iguanas, taking refuge from the storm, made love on the lip of a fountain — the only romance in sight.

Photo by Irv Kaplan
Photo by Irv Kaplan

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Inside, everything was bright and colorful. Houselights dimmed, the curtain rose – only partially – to reveal the rapidly tapping feet of a chorus line – and there we were, immediately captured.  No longer in rainy Florida, we were in the Big Apple, tapping our own toes to the beat of 42nd Street.

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What a neat production! What songs and dances! What a talented cast.

The slight story – would-be-dancer/singer comes to the big city, is initially ignored, finally gets big chance and becomes a star – provides a core for a musical extravaganza. The 14 numbers included such all-time hits as “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me,” “We’re in the Money,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo” and, of course, “The Lullaby of Broadway.”

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Among the talented, energetic ensemble, there are standouts. Lithe, winsome Erin Dowling is perfect as ingénue Peggy Sawyer, while Blair Alexis Brown plays diva Dorothy Brock as more generous than petty – revealing her heart of gold. No one can emote lyrics better than Jim Middleton as producer Julian Marsh.

Kudos to Tim Webb for excellent set design, and to choreographer Kevin Black, restaging Gower Champion’s original work.  While Champion’s opening had 40 pairs of dancing feet, and Black worked with a smaller cast, it was just as dramatic and appealing. On a sad note, Champion died of cancer just hours before the original opening night, August 25, 1980.  That night, the play garnered 11 curtain calls, the production went on to win the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running hit for 3,485 performances. In 1984, the show won the Olivier Award for Best Musical in London, and its 2001 Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival.

The Florida audience gave this production the best reward in its power – a standing ovation.

Highly Recommended

Beverly Friend

At the Stage Door Theatre, 8036 W Sample Rd, Coral Springs, Florida. Call 954-344-7765, www.stagedoortheatre.com Tickets $38-42 Wednesdays through Sundays 2 p.m., Thursdays through Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 7 p.m. running time is 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission, through Jan 24.