Four Texans Featured in 42ND STREET Tour, Coming to Dallas Summer Musicals and Bass Hall!
Next week, the national touring cast of 42nd STREET arrives at Dallas Summer Musicals, featuring a cast of 38 accomplished actors, singers and tap dancers. Although many of the touring gypsies currently consider New York City their home base, four of them were raised locally in the Lone Star State, and cannot wait to put on their dancing shoes back home next week. While on a one-week lay off from the tour this week, I caught up with Texas's own Caitin Ehlinger, Matthew J. Taylor, Mandy Modic and Sarah Fagan. The show runs in Dallas from June 28th to July 10th, and at Forth Worth's Bass Hall July 12th-17th.
Five local musicians: Randy Lee, Keith Jourdan, Rodney Booth, John V. Osborne and Josh Hanlon also join the shows full-time orchestra (which features 8 traveling musicians, plus cast member Rob Ouellette, who appears in the ensemble and plays piano live onstage).
Caitlin Ehlinger is a Houston native who is making her touring debut in 42nd STREET. Ehlinger appears as the rising star Peggy Sawyer, who leads the company in numbers like "42nd Street," "With Plenty of Money and You," and the showstopping dance finale. Ms. Ehlinger grew up attending theatre at Houston's The Wortham Center, and was inspired by the annual ballet performances, but recalls creating special memories seeing the Broadway touring production of THE LION KING with her family. 42nd STREET marking her professional debut. Ms. Ehlinger's previous credits include Stratford High School productions of CHICAGO (Roxie Hart) and WEST SIDE STORY (Anita).
Matthew J. Taylor, from Nederland, TX, stars as Broadway producer Julian Marsh, who sings the iconic tune "Lullaby of Broadway." Mr. Taylor's favorite Texas memories were made at Larry's French Market in Groves, TX, "where my grandmother taught me to dance, where I learned how to open a Shiner, and where I learned how to peel a crawfish," he says. Taylor grew up performing with Barton Summer Musicals, starring in productions, such as Rodgers and Hammerstein's SOME ENCHANTED EVENING. He also played the lead in THE MUSIC MAN (Harold Hill), which was special because he recalls seeing the national tour at only five years old. Now he is the one touring the country full of Texas pride, boasting, "People readily think of football, BBQ, and country music when they think of Texas; but the band, theater, and choral programs in the state are world-renown. Everything is bigger in Texas, and the arts are no exception. We have a rule here: if you're gonna do it, better do it better. I think the legacy of [Texan] artists across all genres speaks to that mentality." His other touring credits include GUYS AND DOLLS (Sky Masterson), CATS (Rum Tum Tugger) and DAMN YANKEES (Joe). He earned his Bachelors of Music at Westminster Choir College, and his Masters of Music from Oklahoma State University.
Dallas's own Mandy Modic will make her Texas professional debut when the curtain rises at Fair Park next week, where she previously participated in Dallas Summer Musicals' summer camp programs and recalls seeing her first musicals (ANNIE, FOOTLOOSE and TAP DOGS) as a child. The young actress, who grew up in Coppell, began her career singing country music with Dallas' Wylie Opry. She found her love of musical theatre as a teenager in Ohlook Performing Arts' production of THE WIZARD OF OZ (as Scarecrow), and performed in local productions of THE MUSIC MAN, CAROUSEL and OKLAHOMA. Ms. Modic warmly remembers DFW as the home of Six Flags Over Texas and the Texas State Fair ("mostly for the fried Snickers"). She's excited to return home and visit Hard Eight restaurant, who she swears has the "best BBQ around." In bringing the tour of 42nd STREET to town, Ms. Modic says, "It is such an honor to be returning to Fair Park to perform on that stage, knowing that there is some kid out there who is starting to create their dreams of performing by watching our show, just like I did as a child in that audience!" Look for Ms. Modic as the ensemble girl with the 1920's glasses, unless she happens to step in for leading lady Dorothy Brock, a role she was recently promoted to understudy.
Arlington's Sarah Fagan appears as Diane Lorimer, who "gets a little behind in her rent." Ms. Fagan performed as a member of the Martin High School Choir, and was featured in Mary Kay Cosmetic conventions as a "Friends of Tyme" dancer. Ms. Fagan graduated from OKCU, and has appeared regionally in productions of HOLIDAY INN, CRAZY FOR YOU, ANYTHING GOES, THE PRODUCERS and SINGIN' IN THE RAIN. As a Texas teen, she grew up attended the Museum School at The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and visiting Bass Hall for frequent Broadway musicals and Texas Ballet Theatre performances. Thinking back on her Bass Hall memories, Ms. Fagan recalled, "My grandparents took me to see 42nd Street there. I was very little, but I vividly remember the girls in the train cars during "Shuffle off to Buffalo." I'm so excited to perform 42nd Street on that same stage!"
Rounding out the cast of 42nd STREET is Kaitlin Lawrence as Dorothy Brock, Britte Steele (Maggie Jones), Steven Bidwell (Bert Barry), Mark Fishback (Abner Dillon), DJ Canaday (Pat Denning), Blake Stadnik (Billy Lawlor), Natalia Lepore Hagan (Annie), Carlos Morales (Mac/Doc/Thug), Lamont Brown (Andy Lee), Rob Ouellette (Oscar), Vanessa Mitchell (Lorraine) and Mallory Nolting (Phyllis).
The ensemble includes Matthew Alexander, Emily Blake Anderson, Brittany Bigelow, Allison Blanchard, Molly Jean Blodgett, Stephanie Brooks, Taylore Burke, Mitchell Canfield, Joel Chambers, Kahlia Davis, Tricia Desario, Lucia Foster, Kelly Gleason, Patrick Heffernan, Tommy Joscelyn, Brady Miller, Georgina Moore, Courtney Moran, Jocelyn Moss, Alicia Newcom, Tanner Outly and Andrew Winans.