BWW Review: 42ND STREET Dances In at Beef & Boards
It features some of Broadway's most beloved tunes, but it also embodies the dreams held by many hopefuls who leave for the big city and wait for that big break. At Beef & Boards, these themes come to life in dazzling technicolor, and it would be a shame to miss 42ND STREET's many charms.
I've said it before about Beef & Boards productions, but I won't hesitate to say it again. The dancing was spectacular, the tapping in particular. The irresistible sounds of the taps hitting the stage speak to something in any music lover's soul. And when it's done so well, the appeal is only heightened. It would be hard to even name one particular company member who excelled above the rest in this respect because every single performer caught the eye when those feet started flying.
The story may center around the up-and-coming Peggy Sawyer, but I want to take a moment to appreciate Sarah Hund as Dorothy Brock, the diva whose fall (literally) paves the way for Peggy's rising star. What Hund brought to the character was a gravity and maturity that made me sympathize more with her character than I would have initially believed possible. Dorothy is not necessarily lovable in the beginning, as she toys with her "sugar daddy" and strings along a long-time lover. But what comes to the fore through Hund's performance is that Brock has a deep love for musical theater. This struck me most in when she offers her bit of advice to Peggy before the performance. You can hear how much of her life was dedicated to being a part of the musical magic. I also greatly enjoyed her vocal performances. Her timbre had a sultry, sassy quality to it that made her tunes stand out from the rest.
Dorothy's character aligns in many ways with that of Julian Marsh, played by Mark Epperson. They are both returning to the stage, she as a star and he as a director. Epperson, like Hund, became a mentor for Peggy as she makes her way on Broadway. However, he has more of a wistful quality to him, and the way he takes Peggy under his wing is a perfect mixture of caustic director and doting father. He also has a palpable love of the theater, and I found myself rooting for him to make his return to the stage a success.
Maggie Jones I feel could become an underrated character in the show, but Lanene Charters gave her a vitality that really drew me in. She struck me as being the "cheerleader" of everyone in the show. She lends a helping hand to Peggy, soothes Dorothy, and helps out Julian when the show is not quite going his way. Charters is also quite the "hoofer," as they say in the show, and I feel she blended right in the girls she mothered through the ins and outs of show-biz.
Based on the book authored by Bradford Ropes and the succeeding 1933 Hollywood film adaptation, 42ND STREET is an American-made musical with book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer, and music by Harry Warren. The 1980 Broadway show, produced by David Merrick, directed by an ailing Gower Champion and orchestrated by Philip J. Lang, won the Tony Award for Best Musical and became a long-running, evergreen hit, and the 2001 Broadway revival won the Tony for Best Revival.
Kaylee Verble stars as the go-getting dancer, Peggy Sawyer. As the show progressed, we saw that Verble had massive natural talent as a dancer, especially in the tap numbers, which are numerous. She drives through her numbers with the comfort and self-confidence of a pro. Mark Epperson plays the revered Broadway director, Julian Marsh, who is looking to put together Broadway's next great show. Reluctantly, he hires the Broadway diva, Dorothy Brock (Sarah Hund) as his star. Hund perfectly played the insecure performer/villain past her prime. She played Brock with more depth than we would have assumed, and she was much more than the cardboard cutout villain of the piece.
Some other stand-outs from the company included Lanene Charters as Maggie Jones, one of the composers of the show within a show, and Jeff Stockberger as Abner Dillon, the wealthy cowboy show producer. Both Charters and Stockberger were hilarious, and were a delight to watch.
42ND STREET is often known for "those dancing feet", and this show is certainly no exception. The show's opening was breathtaking-a large stage full of people tap dancing their hearts out, and they were definitely good! The 17 members of the ensemble were amazing. Ron Morgan is to be commended for his dazzling, busy, period correct choreography. The tap dancing was precise, crisp, and the company did not miss a single beat. The company moved in complete unison with tremendous energy and some killer smiles. The ever-so-often under-appreciated orchestra must also be called out for their great talent and contribution to the show.
42ND STREET is a must-see because it speaks so naturally to any theater-lover's heart. Don't miss your chance to watch the sequins spin on stage as backstage Broadway comes to life. 42nd STREET is showing from now until May 19th.