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BWW Review: 42ND STREET - Tap-Tastic Fun

The Georgetown Palace Theatre's current production of 42ND STREET is a greatly entertaining extravaganza of old fashioned song and dance.
Based on the 1933 movie musical of the same name, 42ND STREET made its Broadway debut in 1980, running successfully until 1989 and was revived in 2001. London's West End will be hosting a British revival in 2017. With the book by Mark Bramble and Michael Stewart, music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, the musical has proven to be a consistent draw over the last three decades.
Set in the Depression, the show begins at auditions for a new Broadway musical, Pretty Lady, when Peggy Sawyer (Alicia Cornwell) arrives too late to make the chorus. Over eager tenor, Billy Lawlor (Jim Lindsay) tries to get her into the show. When she leaves in a rush, she runs into director, Julian Marsh (Rick Felkins), who after some maneuvering by the other chorus girls, gives Peggy a job. The bankroll for the show is Abner Dillion (Erik Freisinger), who demands that his girlfriend, fading star Dorothy Brock (Michelle Cheney) be the titular Pretty Lady. Rehearsals commence and the show moves to Philadelphia to preview. When Peggy accidentally causes Dorothy to break her ankle during a performance, Peggy is fired and the future looks bleak for the whole company. Don't worry, a Depression era happy ending is in store where everything turns out well for everyone. The score includes sentimental favorites Lullaby of Broadway, We're in the Money and 42nd Street by the legendary team of Al Dubin and Harry Warren.
The Palace production is a joyous celebration of a show, including impressive tap numbers by the dozen. Opening night was not exactly perfect, an electrical problem caused curtain to be nearly an hour late, but thanks to the polite, responsive Palace staff and an excellent show, the audience didn't seem to mind the delay in the least. Once the performance began our attention was firmly fixed on stage and the frothy concoction presented there. The real star of the show is Jesee Smart's choreography. It is nothing less than a love letter to the Busby Berkeley movies of the 1930's. I grew up in a pre-on-demand video world, where films of the Depression were on late night television or Saturday afternoon. 42ND STREET took me back to those days of watching old movies with my mother. Standout performances include Betty Ortwein as Maggie Jones, one of the Pretty Lady writers. Her timing is outstanding and her energy infectious. Ingenue Alicia Cornwell is darling and talented as Peggy, the girl who makes it big on luck and guts. As the young tenor, Billy, Jim Lindsay exhibits an amazing vocal talent well as being an excellent dancer. Rick Felkins as Julian is equal parts commanding and demanding. Michelle Cheney as Dorothy is wonderful in every way, she plays the role to perfection, making the audience dislike her and adore her at the same time. The Chorus Girls are all outstanding, while not always in perfect sync, they are nonetheless charming and full of spirit. A few minor tech issues, such as modern dressed stagehands moving scenery, pulled my focus out of 1933 momentarily, but it wasn't enough to spoil a lovely evening.
I recommend 42ND STREET for pure and simple, light entertainment with a nostalgic flair.

Photos by Maggie Thompson

42ND STREET
Georgetown Palace Theatre

August 26 - September 25

Tickets: $15 - $28, georgetownpalace.com


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