BWW Preview: The Guilderland Players Are Tapping Their Way To 42ND STREET
Guilderland High School's drama club, The Guilderland Players, will open their 47th musical on March 10th with a production of the Tony Award winning hit, 42nd Street. The show, originally appearing on Broadway in 1980, features music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, and a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble.
At the helm of this production is Christine Meglino as the show's director, a graduate of the Television, Film, and Radio program at Syracuse University with a minor in theater. When deciding upon a production back in the summer of 2015, Meglino did not have her heart set on 42nd Street. In fact, she found herself leaning towards another musical. Yet, after watching videos on YouTube of the show's opening number, Meglino instantly got chills and knew that this was the show she had to do. With the help of Erin Hughes, choreographer for The Guilderland Players over the past few years, along with Andy Maycock as head of stage crew, Claudia Feeney as music director, Lauren Jurczynski as music conductor, and Elaine Gross as the show's producer, the spring musical was soon on its way.
A challenge quickly presented itself, however. The musical's dance numbers are almost entirely based on tap dancing, a style that reigned foreign among the majority of the cast. Yet, Meglino tells us that she embraced this challenge and used it as a learning opportunity for the cast. "It's high school theater, it's not Broadway," she says. "It should be a learning experience for these kids. So let's take all this time we have with them and teach them a new skill that they may have not been exposed to before. I saw Anything Goes a few years back [at Guilderland High School], which Erin choreographed, so I knew that she was patient and I knew that she would be able to do an amazing job with these kids."
Prior to auditions, Hughes hosted an introductory tap workshop for all hopefuls, teaching basic steps and dipping the students' feet into the intricate world of tap. "The goal was to provide an introduction to tap and explain the audition process," Hughes explains. "I spent some time teaching the basic steps, progressed to more challenging moves, and ended by teaching a short combination."
After the show was cast, the first two weeks of rehearsals were entirely dedicated to learning basic tap steps that would assist the cast when it came time to learn the choreography. Abby Ryan, portraying the role of Anytime Annie, explains to us that, "Once we had the basic steps down, such as time steps, flaps, and shuffles, we began to learn the show's opening number, which is basically a combination of all the steps we had learned over the previous two weeks."
Anchoring the production are Megan Anders, a junior at Guilderland High School, stepping into the role of ingénue Peggy Sawyer, and Eliana Rowe, a senior, portraying the diva Dorothy Brock. Both have had much prior experience onstage, Anders dancing and performing since she was a child and Rowe attending the New York State Summer School of the Arts this past year. Anders explained to us that though the two weeks of tap rehearsals were quite beneficial, many still had trouble picking up on certain rhythms and steps. "Many members of the cast," she tells us, "including myself and Anna Fernandez who plays Maggie, really helped out those who were struggling with the tap and helped to boost their confidence. I think this really helped to bring our show together and also helped us to bond closer as a cast. "
Hughes agreed with Anders' statement, adding that, "There is such a wide range of tap experience among the cast, so there has been a tricky balance trying to challenge and showcase the experienced tappers while not overwhelming the beginners. However, I think this has allowed the cast to bond and as a result they have been able to learn a tremendous amount from one another."
After four months of intensive rehearsals, The Guilderland Players' production of 42nd Street will run from March 10th through the 13th at Guilderland High School. Meglino exclaims that this is certainly not a show you want to miss! "I have loved watching the cast grow," she says. "I would say 85% of them had never tapped before this production and to see how much they've grown over the past few months is amazing." Anders adds that, "With all the dance and music numbers, each member of the cast has worked so incredibly hard to pull this production together. It's so rewarding to be working on something for four months and then to see it come together right before your eyes, and I'm sure that everyone who comes to see the show is going to love it just as much as we do!"
The show also features Winsor Jewell as Julian Marsh, Riley O'Lena as Billy Lawlor, Lakota Lutsig as Bert Barry, Sean Gordon as Pat Denning, Natalie Russo as Phyllis Dale, Olivia Fanshawe as Lorraine Flemming, Derek Petti as Abner Dillon, Ashley Visker as Sandy Lee, and Kevin Zuchowski as Mac. The ensemble is comprised of Carly Anders, Aman Avvaru, Sadie Buerker, Eric Burby, Anna Capuano, Ella Davidson, Sean Donnelly, Kate Dvorscak, Meg Fitzpatrick, Taylor Graham, Avery Heaney, Emma Klindsworth, Sierra Liotta, Alexandra Marino, Abe Mohammed, Jenna Morrissey, Ethan Skelly, Sammie Stern, Mallory Trainor, Hannah Valensi, Andre Valverde, and Jocelyn Vititow. Serving as student producer is Tory Tyksinski with Josh Kahn as student director. For more information, visit Guilderland High School's webpage or call (518) 861-8591, ext 6202.