Saturday December 16th 2017

“42nd Street”

Recommended*** There is nothing like a rousing musical with lots of tap dancing to bring one’s spirits up. One of my all time favorites has been the Song and Dance Fable of Broadway,”42nd Street” based on the book by Bradford Ropes that is called a backstage musical, allowing us to see the inner workings of a Broadway show. Unlike “A Chorus Line” that really shows us the heartache connected with those who have chosen to be stage actors/singers/dancers, this is a light hearted look at how a young dancer works her way from the chorus to being a star. It is filled with lots of fluff and a story that is far from realistic, but with the wonderful score ( music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin), the book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble is secondary. Songs like ” We’re In The Money”,”You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me”, “Lullaby of Broadway”,”Shuffle Off To Buffalo” and of course “42nd Street” and some exciting tap numbers ( choreographed by Linda Fortunato) audiences will find themselves smiling, clapping their hands and stamping their feet ( to the fabulous music).

Watching the production now on the stage at Theatre At The Center in Munster ( just over the border) I am reminded that the story is aged and while I have loved Bill Pullinsi’s direction over the years, this show needs more sparkle and energy. The cast is young with energy and the dance numbers truly sharp, but the direction of the overall piece is not what we are used to in “big” musicals at this theater as well as the others ( Marriott, Drury Lane, Paramount etal). Larry Adams, who is a brilliant actor with a strong voice plays Broadway Director Julian Marsh with a little more “camp” than I would expect him to. The always reliable Paula Scrofano handles Dorothy Brock ( the aging star who gets injured, leading to young Peggy Sawyer taking on the starring role) with all the style and grace that she brings to every role, and her “I Know Now” is sheer perfection. Peggy Sawyer is handled by Nicole Miller who has a great vocal range and shows her “hoofing ” is more than we have ever seen in other productions.nato. The other lead roles are played by  Amy Brohy, Tom Moore,Nathan Mittleman,David Besky,Jenny Guse and one of my favorite character actors as the “sugar Daddy investor” Abner Dillon, Dale Benson ( a veteran of all of Chicago’s stages who continues to prove that “there are no small roles, only small actors!”. Mr. Benson can take one line and make it into a monologue and yet never upstage his fellow actors. ny young actor should call it an honor to appear on stage with Mr. Benson and any audience member has to fall in love with him. The rest of the ensemble is made up of Cara Salerno,Amy Orman, Steven Spanopoulos, Rebecca Bradford, Chris Carter, Amanda Lauren Compton, Mike Danovich, Brian M. Duncan, Allyson J. Graves, Kim Green, Michael Reckling and Johnson Vaughn Brock. s I said before, young and talented with loads of energy.                                   

William Underwood’s musical direction is solid and as conductor of the five piece orchestra, makes it sound as if there are three times that number ( Barry G. Funderburg’s sound may have helped in this regard). What makes an old time musical special is the glitz of the costumes (Brenda Winstead), the set ( Jack McGaw who keeps it to a minimum), the lights ( Tim Fandrei), wigs (Kevin Barthel) and the many props that have been assembled (Lauren Earnshaw). It takes a lot of people doing their parts to make a Broadway Musical take hold of our hearts and souls, take us away from reality and allow us to forget all our troubles, cares and woes, at least fro two acts, roughly two hours! The production at Theatre At The Center, while not as energetic and glitzy as past productions have been is still an enjoyable evening out at the theater.

“42nd Street” will continue in Munster through October 21st with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 2 p.m.,Thursdays at 2 p.m. ( 9/27 at 7:30 p.m. as well) and a special 9:30 .M. performance on October 11th), Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are only$38-$42 and can be purchased at the box office located at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster ( just off the highway as you enter Indiana, by phone at 219-836-3255 or Tickets.com at 800-511-1552

To learn more about the Theatre at the Center series, you can visit www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com. Some good dining spots in the immediate area ( at menu prices that will amaze you) and you can fill your tank for 20-30 cents a gallon less, making it almost worth the trip just for the savings, but don’t  let that be all you take to the highway for. You will have an entertaining experience and this might be a good way to get your mind back to the “good old days”

For more on “42nd Street”, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click on “42nd Street”

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