First premiering in 1980, 42nd Street, a larger-than-life musical written by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, is now deemed a classic, and judging by DPAC’s presentation, directed by Bramble, it’s easy to see why.
The fabulous, iconic musical numbers, the glittering costumes, the phenomenal set, and of course, the impressive choreography, featuring new additions by Randy Skinner, make this production one that will never be forgotten.
It’s so big, so loud, and so large-scale that it captivates and enthralls viewers from start to finish, grabbing them with its energy and force, which it manages to sustain through each successive song and dance number…and there are lots!
The story here is a simple one, especially compared to all the lavishness of the musical numbers. The “sweetheart” of the show is Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger), a young woman from Pennsylvania who arrives in 1930s New York ready to be a star. The only problem is that, at her audition for Pretty Lady, a fictional play directed by the demanding Julian Marsh (Matthew J. Taylor), she’s too nervous to enter the stage doors.
Fortunately for Peggy, a fortunate turn of events lands her a role in the show..a role that ultimately turns out to be much bigger and better than she could have ever imagined. And, though she has to deal with the antics of snobby starlet Dorothy Brock, played to diva-esque perfection by Kaitlin Lawrence, she’s on a mission to make it to the top.
Ehlinger is completely likable and thoroughly endearing in her believable performance, and she shares great chemistry with Taylor, who exudes sex appeal and charm, despite his character’s flaws, in his role as Marsh. The characters’ growing attraction to one another is one of the show’s main plots, and these two actors manage to bring that attraction to life in a way that’s believable and at times hilarious. It should also be noted that all of the actors do a good job making the show feel authentically set in the 1930s, even using that loud-overly-enunciated “actor speak” of the day.
As the show speeds from one huge number to the next, never losing steam, the audience gets lost, not just in the story, but in the dazzling array of costumes and shiny set pieces. The most enthralling thing about this production, however, are definitely the dance numbers. Fast, pounding, exciting…a little bit of everything all at once, the choreography here begs to be seen.
While some of the humor may be a bit dated and while the script may show its age from time to time, it’s more than made up for with all the visual appeal of this production, which is sure to delight any musical fan.
The Durham Performing Arts Center presents 42ND STREET at 7:30 p.m. May 5, 8 p.m. May 6, 2 and 8 p.m. May 7, and 1 and 6:30 p.m. May 8 at 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701, in the American Tobacco Historic District.
TICKETS: $30-$145. Click here for DPAC Special Offers.
DPAC Box Office: 919-680-ARTS (2787), tickets@DPACnc.com, or http://www.DPACnc.com/events-tickets/where-to-buy.
Ticketmaster: 800-982-2787 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/803389.
GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919/281-0587, Groups@DPACnc.com, or http://www.DPACnc.com/events-tickets/group-services.
SHOW: http://www.DPACnc.com/events/detail/42nd-street and https://www.facebook.com/events/1691146487770123/.
VIDEO PREVIEW: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gz_KFPHWl4.
TOUR: http://www.42ndstmusical.com/, https://www.facebook.com/42ndStmusical, and https://twitter.com/42ndStreetTour.
2015-16 SUNTRUST BROADWAY SERIES: http://www.DPACnc.com/suntrust-broadway-series-2015-16.
PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.DPACnc.com/, https://www.facebook.com/DPACNC, https://twitter.com/DPAC, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham_Performing_Arts_Center.
NOTE: Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh will audio-describe the show’s 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7th, performance.
Bradford Ropes (novelist, 1905-66): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0740622/ (Internet Movie Database) and http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/11154 (Internet Broadway Database).
42nd Street (1933 film): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024034/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/616/42nd-Street/ (Turner Classic Movies), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Street_%28film%29 (Wikipedia).
42nd Street: The Song-and-Dance Fable of Broadway (1980 Broadway and 1984 West End musical): http://www.42ndstmusical.com/ (official website), http://www.ibdb.com/Show/View/1027 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Street_%28musical%29 (Wikipedia).
Study Guide: http://www.acu.edu/academics/cas/theatre/documents/42nd-street-study-guide.pdf (Abilene Christian University).
Harry Warren (music): http://www.42ndstmusical.com/creators_bios/harry.php (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/12549 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Warren (Wikipedia).
Al Dubin (lyrics): http://www.42ndstmusical.com/creators_bios/harry.php (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/12855 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Dubin (Wikipedia).
Michael Stewart (book): http://www.42ndstmusical.com/creators_bios/michael%201.php (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/7748 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Stewart_%28playwright%29 (Wikipedia).
Mark Bramble (book and director): http://www.42ndstmusical.com/creators_bios/mark.php (tour bio), http://www.ibdb.com/Person/View/7548 (Internet Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Bramble (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.