When the curtain opened to the cast on stage tap dancing to the song “Audition”, the enthusiastic audience started clapping, knowing they were in for a delightful night of memorable songs and dancing in the musical 42nd Street, running now through March 5 at Lauderhill Performing Arts Center in Lauderhill.
Artistic Director Michael Ursua of the Broadway Series at LPAC and Choreographer Alex Jorth teamed with the large cast of 14 actors and 14 dancers in the ensemble to produce a lively, upbeat performance of the story of Peggy Sawyer (Seana Nicol) becoming a star in musical theater during the height of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
42nd Street Opens with Cast Performing “Audition”
Based on the book by Mark Bramble and Michael Stewart, the story of 42nd Street gives a heartfelt look at the challenge of producing, directing and promoting musical theater in the 1930s. Although set in the Great Depression era, the story of fading star Dorothy Brock (Colleen Pagano) clinging on to her power on stage while being upstaged by young Dorothy is a story that rings true and never gets stale, especially in the world of musical theater.
Act one begins with Dorothy being charmed by Texas millionaire Abner Dillon (Bill Brewer) and entices Dorothy and her director Julian Marsh (Patrick Ryan Sullivan) by financing Marsh’s new musical “Pretty Lady.”
Dorothy (Colleen Pagano) bickers with Jordan (Patrick Ryan Sullivan)
Dorothy enrages both Abner and Julian by her love affair with Pat Denning (James A. Skiba). Julian hires two thugs (Aaron Atkinson and Michael Materdomini) to keep Dorothy and Pat apart.
Peggy is cast as the talented novice dancer/singer, who is guided by the cast to continue performing, although she has doubts about her future and contemplates returning to a simpler life in her native Allentown, Pennsylvania.
By act two, conflicts emerge between Dorothy and Peggy, leaving Julian and the cast to ponder about the future of “Pretty Lady”. The climax of the tension changes the relationships for the trio of Abner, Dorothy and Pat as well as Julian and Peggy.
Tension builds in act two to the fate of “Pretty Lady” and the hopes and dreams for Julian and Peggy, leading to a robust, jubilant ending of dancing and singing.
The mostly senior audience seemed to remember and hummed along to the Harry Warren/Al Dubin songs in the musical, such as “About A Quarter To Nine”, “Lullaby Of Broadway”, “Shuffle Off To Buffalo” and the title song “42nd Street”.
As good as these songs were sung by the cast, what stands out are the numerous dancing sequences, originally created for the 1980 Broadway production of 42nd Street by Gower Champion to augment the music..
“Shadow Waltz”, danced by Maggie Jones (Karen Hagerty Cohen) and Dorothy along with five ensemble dancers was impressive, especially with the shadows on the stage effect created by Lighting Design Director Preston Bircher.
Maggie Jones (Karen Hagerty Cohen)
The showstopper dance number, sung to the finale in act one “We’re In The Money”, featured impressive tap dancing by Dorothy, Peggy and the full company, dressed in “Liberty Dime” costumes signifying the importance of even a dime in the Depression era.
Lead actors Colleen Pagano, Patrick Ryan Sullivan and Seana Nicol shined impressively as Dorothy, Julian and Peggy respectively. Along with her singing, Pagano showed comic touches in her scenes with Brewer and Skiba.
Nicol and Sullivan added tension in their scenes, especially the final few minutes in the musical when Jordan gives Peggy a “pep talk” prior to her going on stage in “Pretty Lady.”
Peggy (Seana Nicol) gets inspirational talk from Jordan (Patrick Ryan Sullivan)