Cast of Characters
(in order of appearance)
Andy Lee - Casey Colgan
Mac - Neil A. Casey
Anytime Annie - Jane Labanz
Maggie Jones - Gail Cook Howell
Bert Barry - Keith Crowningshield
Diane Lorimar - Julie Connors
Ethel - Kathi Gillmore
Billy Lawlor - Jay Douglas
Peggy Sawyer - Roxane Barlow
Phyllis - Kathy Meyer
Lorraine - Mary Lilygren
Julian Marsh - Greg Wood
Dorothy Brock - Susan Cella
Abner Dillon - David Coffee
Pat Denning - Patrick Godfrey
Thugs - Neil A. Casey, Andrew G. Johnson
Doctor - Neil A. Casey
Carey Bertini, Kevin Broadie, Joseph Carlino, Julie Connors,
Gerald Crawford, David DeCooman, Britt Freund, Kathi Gillmore,
Andrew G. Johnson, Lori Ledvina, Lori Leshner, Mary Lilygren,
Kathy Meyer, Susan M. Mitchell, Scott Schmidt, Dante A. Sciarra,
Amy Suiter, Yasuko Tamaki, Jennifer Turey.
Gail Cook Howell for Dorothy Brock, Kathy Meyer for Peggy Sawyer,
and Jennifer Turey for Maggie and Phyllis.
director/choreographer -Barry Ivan
music director - Phil Reno
scenic designer - Jeff Modereger
costume designer - Elspeth McClanahan
lighting designer - Tom Sturge
sound designer - John Stone
assistant choreographer - Kathy Meyer
casting - Stephen DeAngelis
production stage manager - Steven Scott Jones
assistant stage manager - Kathleen Parsons
dance captain - Casey Colgan
assistant music director - Don Hite
"I'm going to love this show regardless of what Larry Stark thinks of it. I love musicals and this one can't be as blase' as his review of it indicates," I thought to myself. I had to find out for sure. I thought wrong. Apparently I have been extremely fortunate to have seen a string of truly outstanding shows in the last two months. Unfortunately, having written honest and complimentary reviews of these fine shows, it may appear that I'm not being very critical. I was beginning to wonder myself if I was being critical enough. Seeing something not as strong helps me to appreciate really good theater again and to be assured I can tell the difference. This is not to say that "42nd Street" is entirely terrible; afterall, there are some really good points to it, but overall it just doesn't impress me.
Larry made the suggestion when he saw it at the beginning of the run that they just hadn't gotten their acts together and that perhaps they might pull it together soon. Unfortunately, three weeks later and at the end of their run it still seems to lack something, though what exactly that might be is very hard to pin down. Most songs lack feeling or depth and many of the dances appear repetitive. This is not surprising given that it's mainly a dance show with a namby-pamby, weak, predictable plot. None of this is directly the fault of the current cast or production staff. Unfortunately, much of the acting, what little of it there is, comes across phony and affected and not authentic at all. It lacks some sort of polish and cohesion, the "joie de vivre" that makes theater magic happen when it happens.
The show has probably improved since he saw it, but is possible that I simply have a difference of opinion on the following two points. I was most impressed with the acting of Roxane Barlow as Peggy Sawyer and Greg Wood as Julian Marsh. They were far and away the best actors of the bunch, as well as the best singers.
Roxane Barlow has this part down and IS Peggy Sawyer. Her nervous interactions with Billy and the others at the end of the audition are humorous and well done. She has the idealistic new girl in show biz attitude that is wonderfully catchy and inspirational and she dances circles around the other dancers. Making that appear to happen must not have been easy, given the high skill and talent level of the rest of the ensemble.
Greg Wood does an exceptional job with his Julian Marsh, being both an angry director at the beginning and a softee sweetheart near the end. His solo at the beginning of "Lullaby of Broadway" is rendered superbly in his deep rich voice. Barlow and Wood are a good combination, most especially during the scene where he attempts to teach her how to greet her lover who has surprised her with his return. Each time he kisses her she responds differently and better using the same script line.
Susan Cella portrays Dorothy Brock as terribly phony and condescending, which I think her character is supposed to be, but I kept expecting that to change when she wasn't dealing with the show management. When she acted this way also with her lover, Pat Denning, played by Patrick Godfrey, I began to wonder. When she had to audition for the part of the lead, I was unsure if her performance was supposed to be very good or terribly bad. In any case, I wasn't very impressed with her part in this show, although it did seem to improve a bit when we got to the beginning of the Act I Finale.
I was very impressed with the quality and energy level of the dancing. Every one of them was in step with every other and to hear all those dancing feet was very impressive. However, the fact that it is all tap with little variety gets very boring after awhile, however. I was also disappointed that the songs seemed so disjointed. Most musicals use songs to enhance the story and carry it through, whereas these are mostly disjointed pieces that have little consistency other than the time period and that they are part of the "Pretty Lady" show they are putting on. One exception to that was "Go Into Your Dance" which was very well executed dancing and choreography by a small group of the girls - Maggie, Phyllis, Annie, Lorraine and Peggy.
I liked the humorous opening of "We're in the Money" with the tramp girls finding a dime on the ground and being so overjoyed at their new wealth that they have to sing and dance about it. When the rest of the cast came in and took over the song, I had to wonder why. It didn't really fit or flow into the rest of the piece, but was just glitz and fluff again.
I didn't understand the point of the song "Dames" in which the girls all come in dressed up in fancy evening gowns and kind of spin around doing not much else. The lyrics of this song indicate that people go to shows just to look at pretty girls and don't really care if there's a plot or good acting at all. Perhaps some go for that, but not I.
I was confused by the ending in which the soldier that Peggy is dancing with is shot in "42nd Street". Peggy gets all upset, two other soldiers drag him offstage and after a moment or two Peggy gets herself together and starts dancing again. Not having seen this show before, I couldn't tell if this is supposed to be a part of the show within a show, "Pretty Lady" or is supposed to have taken them by surprise during their show. Continuing to dance after your partner has just been shot seems pretty unrealistic, despite the "show must go on" motto. Again, I seem to be primarily complaining about the weak musical and not the performance.
For a fluff show, I guess it is all right if you like that sort of thing. The costumes are nice and glitzy and many costume changes are done quickly. The theatre-in-the-round is utilized effectively. The dancers do their parts well and Wood and Barlow shine. The audience as a whole seemed to like it, giving it an unwarranted standing ovation. I did not. Alas, next time, Larry, I might try listening to you.