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42nd Street - Musical Theatre Review
Dodger Stage Holding
And Joop van den Ende's Presentation of
Ford Center for the Performing Arts
A Clear Channel Theatre
213 West 42nd Street
New York, NY
Shirley Jones, Patrick Cassidy, Greg Beck, Vanessa Sonon,
Patti Mariano, Frank Root, David Elder, Brad Aspel, Richard Pruitt, Steve Luker, Michael Dantuono, Susan Haefner, Dorothy Stanley,
and a full cast of dancers and singers
Directed by Mark Bramble
Musical Staging and New Choreography by Randy Skinner
Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Original Direction and Dances by Gower Champion
Music Director: Todd Ellison
Scenery Design: Douglas W. Schmidt
Costume Design: Roger Kirk
Lighting Design: Paul Gallo
Sound Design: Peter Fitzgerald
Production Stage Manager: Arturo E. Porazzi
Casting: Jay Binder
Wigs & Hair Design: David H. Lawrence
Musical Adaptation: Donald Johnston
Orchestrations: Philip J. Lang
Music Coordinator: John Miller
Executive Producer: Dodger Management Group
Technical Supervisor: Peter Fulbright
Marketing Consultant: Margery Singer
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 23, 2004
As reality mimics theatre, today's matinee of 42nd Street, a synchronized tap dance celebration of New York, found the role of ingénue, aka Peggy Sawyer, who takes over the lead of a new production, performed by such an ingénue, Vanessa Sonon. Ms. Sonon was demure, a great dancer, and has the potential to pull off her likely debut as the rising Broadway singer/dancer who enters the stage as a kid and exits a star. But, the real stars of this revival were Shirley Jones, back on Broadway after more than 35 years, as Dorothy Brock, the crooner who no longer can dance but has a will of iron and a heart that melts with secret passion, and her son, Patrick Cassidy, as Julian Marsh, the Director of the new show on 42nd St. That fictitious show, Pretty Lady, was to open in Philadelphia, but Ms. Brock falls onstage and breaks her ankle, and the ingénue is put to the test by her friends and foes. 42nd Street originally opened in 1980 (when I first saw it) and was modeled after the 1933 Hollywood film (which I intend to rent asap).
This is a show if you like Broadway dance, ballet, glitter, the 1930's, synchronized tap ensembles, open humor for kids, hidden humor for adults, the best sets in NY by far (each song seems to have its own unique set), costumes and wigs that make you wish America was innocent again, songs that replay in your mind for weeks, cabaret (Ms. Jones croons with the best), trains (Shuffle off to Buffalo), and old fashioned romance. Ms. Jones sings I Only Have Eyes for You with mellifluous musicality and poise. This is one classy lady, and her evening gowns and dresses exuded stature and grace, with more than a touch of flair. Mr. Cassidy sang Lullaby of Broadway with such pizzazz and power that I hope this production lasts forever just to showcase his charisma and charm.
In the list of inherent high points above, ballet may seem an odd inclusion. However, toward the opening of Scene 1, dancers' feet are shown below the partially lifted curtain, very much similar to that same device in Eifman's new homage to Balanchine, Musagète, only in that case the ballerinas are at the barre en pointe. 42nd Street also has a short ballet scene in Pretty Lady, and during one or two moments there is a quotation of the Nijinsky Faun motif, hands in arched position, walking sideways, head turned. Ms. Jones' solos and duets could succeed in the best of NY Cabaret venues, and the adult humor is in Brock's lover's (Frank Root as Bert Barry) body language and downbeat attitude, as well as in Ms. Brock's sugar daddy's (Richard Pruitt as Abner Dillon) sexual affectations. Glitter abounds in sets, lighting, costumes, and shiny lipstick.
Today's matinee was seen by numerous school groups in the balcony, and their laughter at the intended slapstick and "ooing" at the "touching" love scenes were illustrative of the versatility and quality of 42nd Street as a family show, a date show, a ladies' show, an older couples' show, and a very, very hip show. 42nd Street has something for everyone. One of those "somethings" is an exquisite number against a large moving mirror that re-creates the Busby Berkeley kaleidoscopic dances on the floor, a fanciful flower of legs. The main event, though, is Broadway dance and tap, and my guest and I could not sit still during the high volume tap numbers that make every human fiber pulsate in synchronized rhythm. The finale, 42nd Street, title song, has so much drive and dynamism that the reprise would have been demanded by the endless standing ovation that followed.
Todd Ellison, Conductor, who smiles in campy character, rising and descending on his adorable pedestal, opens and closes the show with excitement and a "NY state of mind". I almost did not want to see him again, as I could not bear for this production to end. This is not only a must-see event, especially while mother and son, Jones and Cassidy, are both onstage making Broadway history, but it's also a must see again event. So many songs, so many sets. And, an ingénue who plays an ingénue!
If you would like to see and purchase Broadway dance shoes for yourself, to wear to dance, or to attend Broadway performances or any special event, call LaDuca Shoes at 212.268.6751 or visit LaDuca's Website. Phil LaDuca designed many of 42nd Street's Broadway tap and dance shoes for women and for men. Tell Phil or Marco that you saw them on ExploreDance.com.
Tickets for 42nd Street can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.
Nadine Isenegger and Cast in 42nd Street
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus
The Finale of 42nd Street
Photo courtesy of Joan Marcus