BWW Reviews: Shuffle Off To MSMT For A Broadway-Like 42ND STREET
Maine State Music Theater closes their 54th season with a perfect montage of talent, tech and Broadway-like production values that brought a sell-out audience to their tapping feet on opening night.
42ND STREET, with book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, is a celebration of 1933 Broadway and the people, on and off stage, involved in the making of a new musical. It's a story of aspirations, talent, love and sacrifice. This Tony Award winning musical features a singable score by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, with such memorable songs as We're In The Money, Lullaby Of Broadway and Forty-Second Street.
There is no question that the opening number, led by the flawless dancing of Raymond Marc Dumont, is worth the price of admission. Without giving away the visual, let me just say it will give you chills and a huge smile as the triple-threat ensemble explodes into one of the best tap numbers I have seen in years.
Director, Charles Repole, masterfully creates a perfect evening of musical theater. Character development, relationships, conflict and resolution all beautifully staged, clear and well executed. The characters may be fictitious, but they are based on very real people in the business and Repole delivers that fine-line of character versus caricature expertly.
Michael Lichtefeld's choreography is the best I've seen on any stage in a very long time. Lichtefeld creates so many show-stopping dance numbers, I hurt from applauding and smiling so much. Lichtefeld knows how to take the audience on a roller coaster ride of emotions through his dance, perfectly complimenting Repole's vision. If you want to see exciting tap beautifully done, look no further- these hoofers deliver!
Musical Director, Jason Wetzel, provides strong support to the singers, his band the best of the MSMT season. Sound designer, Colin Whitely, creates a perfect balance between musicians and singers, every word perfectly heard. Wetzel's direction of harmony, color and the all-important breath control (especially during the tap numbers) excels.
Patrick Ryan Sullivan (Julian Marsh) knows how to grab hold of an audience and never let go. His strength in acting and vocals is a strong foundation for the company to play off of. A very moving scene between Sullivan and Alessa Neeck (Peggy Sawyer) at the end of act two shows depth and honesty,
Neeck is delightful as the star-to-be, delivering some seriously good dancing and vocals.
Karen K. Edissi (Dorothy Brock), a MSMT favorite from seasons past, is deliciously diva-like. Edissi's voice radiates emotion, her acting and comedic timing spot-on. A scene with Neeck at the end of act two shows depth and levels that touch the heart.
Charis Leos (Maggie Jones) is the mistress of moments, her comedy and vocals super strong. I can't wait to see the dramatic Leos let loose as "Mama Rose" in Gypsy next summer at MSMT.
Tyler Hanes (Billy Lawlor) lights up the stage, perfectly cast.
Maine favorite, Glenn Anderson, stands out as Abner Dillon. It wouldn't be a MSMT season without Anderson in some small role that he always makes the most of.
The way-too-cute Raymond Marc Dumont (Andy Lee) is another Maine favorite, tapping his way back onstage with excellent, effortless execution. Dumont knows how to make his supporting role stand out.
A hilarious Mara Newbery (Annie Reilly) has that certain something that makes you watch her every time she's on stage. With a winning smile, strong dance and vocals, Newbery is fun-tastic.
Shuffle Off To Buffalo with Dumont and Newbery, along with Maggie and the girls, is a show highlight.
The very talented and not-on-stage enough, Gregg Goodbrod (Pat Denning), proves there are no small parts- giving strong support to Edissi's scenes.
The ensemble, too numerous to mention, are triple threat terrific. Such amazing energy, commitment and execution. This group of thespians are just as responsible for the show's success as the leads, providing show-stopping highlights every time they are on stage. I love the curtain call encore!
Congratulations to Charles S, Kading (Scenic Designer) for a workable set, and Paul Black (Lighting Designer) for some of the best lighting of the 2012 season. Lighting for Dames is amazing. Costumer, Kurt Alger, designs a period pallet of texture and color that enhance the characters, scenes and songs. Alger's eye for flexible material that moves well is evident in the many dance numbers.
MSMT has announced that Dreamgirls, Les Miserables, Gypsy and the premiere of Disney's Mary Poppins will take the stage next summer season. With the winning season Executive Director Steve Peterson delivered this summer, I suggest you buy your season tickets now because, like 42ND STREET, you won't want to miss one second of it.
42ND STREET continues through August 25 at Maine State Music Theatre, Brunswick, ME. For tickets and more information, call (207) 725-8769 or go to www.msmt.org
From This Author Michael Tobin