Recommended *** (production value) Highly Recommended **** (star and ensemble). While there are many who love seeing the “quintessential backstage musical” known as “42nd Street”, it takes a solid ensemble and a brilliant Peggy Sawyer to make this toe-tapping show make the audience fall in love. The current cast on tour as part of the Broadway In Chicago season, at the Cadillac Palace Theatre does just that. This is a story that is based on a novel by Bradford Ropes and a Busby Berkeley film in the early 1930’s. I can see many of you shaking your heads wondering Busby Berkeley? This is one that Google will answer for you, but he was a filmmaker who always featured “big dance” numbers that the audience saw from a perfect angle, so that we saw the legs as one. If you have ever watched a number by the Rockettes, you will understand the value of dance as Berkeley felt it!
The show is about the American Dream. A young girl from Allentown, Pa, heads for New York to find fame and fortune in the chorus of a Broadway show. Well, as an ex-actor, let’s rephrase this dy getting rid of the “fortune” and leaning less heavy on the fame. These were lean days, so let’s just say a “job”. The book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, tell us the fabled story of this youngster Peggy Sawyer ( Caitlin Ehlinger is amazingly perfect in this role. Her voice is melodic, her acting on target and as a tap dancer, the best way to say it is “WOWIE!”) who due to a slight mis-step ends up stepping into the lead role of a Broadway show and exceeding the expectations of everyone involved.
The director who fires her, re-hires her and inspires her, Julian Marsh (deftly handled by Matthew J. Taylor), the Tenor , Billy (solidly played by Blake Stadnik),the writers/show comics, Bert and Maggie (played to perfection by Britte Steele and Steven Bidwell) the star she replaces (Dorothy Brock (Kaitlin Lawrence) and an amazing ensemble: Carlos Morales, Matthew Alexander, Lamont Brown, DJ Canaday, Mark Fishback, Rob Ouellette, Natalia Lenore Hagen, Sarah Fagan, Vanessa Mitchell, Mallory Nolting, Emily Blake Anderson, Brittany Bigelow, Allison Blanchard, Molly Jean Blodgett, Taylore Burke,, Mitchell Canfield, Joel Chambers, Kahlia Davis, Tricia DeSario, Lucia Foster,, Kelly Gleason, Patrick Heffernan, Tommy Joscelyn, Brady Miller,, Mandy Modic,, Georgina Moore, Courtney Moran, Alicia Newcom and Michael Persson. GREAT JOB!
This touring company is directed by Mark Bramble with the musical staging and new choreography by Randy Skinner. It is a show filled with glitz and glamour and lots of great costume changes ( try and keep count if you can). I would have to say, the most important feature of this backstage fable are the tap numbers. They are invigorating. during the opening number, right after the overture, we are able to see where the direction is going with the show-stopping number called “Audition” with the curtain starting to rise, revealing a myriad of tapping feet and from that point forward, for the next two hours and thirty minutes, you are taken away from your everyday thoughts and problems, to a place where anything is possible! Songs you will remember are “I Only Have Eyes For You”, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “Shuffle off To Buffalo” and of course the title song, “42nd Street” (several times). Even the curtain call is not the end of the play as Peggy goes off to change yet another costume and her ensemble joins her in a number that will bring your energy to a new high and have you dancing out onto Randolph street to hail a cab or find your limo. What a night!
Tickets range in price from $19-$85 (which makes this a value) and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices, by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 1-800-775-2000, at all Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com (where you can also purchase special parking). The actual performance times are available on the website as well as being able to place your order.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “42nd Street”