Theatre Mirror Reviews-"42nd Street"

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entire contents copyright 2014 by Tony Annicone

"42nd Street"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Ocean State Theatre Company's blockbuster musical of this spring season is the Tony Award winning "42nd Street".  It is loosely based on the 1933 musical movie with the same name. The stage musical version opened on August 25, 1980 and ran until January 8, 1989 and starred Jerry Orbach as Julian Marsh and Tammy Grimes as Dorothy Brock. ''42nd Street" is the tale of the up and coming chorus girl, Peggy Sawyer who arrives in NYC seeking a career on Broadway. Unfortunately she misses the audition for Pretty Lady but suave tenor, Billy Lawlor is attracted to Peggy and gets her to sing with him to get noticed by Julian Marsh. He puts her into the show after she almost knocks him out like a football lineman. During an out of town tryout in Philadelphia, Peggy accidentally trips and pushes the prima donna leading lady, Dorothy Brock, causing her to fall and break her ankle. After this Julian fires her and she decides to return home to Allentown, PA. However Julian, Billy and the chorus convince her to return to the show by singing "Lullaby of Broadway and Peggy becomes a star. Amiee Turner, director/choreographer  and Jay Atwood, musical director infuse this show with the energy needed for this huge musical extravaganza. The phenomenal tap dancing and vocal prowess of this multitalented cast propels the audience to their feet at the curtain call. Bravo on a job very well done.

Amiee casts topnotch performers in all these roles but since this is a dancing musical, the choreography is of the utmost importance. Since Amiee appeared in this show on Broadway, she knows all the dance steps inside and out especially the fabulous tap numbers including the opening tap dance, "We're in the Money'' "Lullaby of Broadway" and the Act 2 version of "42nd Street". Her astounding dances include many different styles of tap, plus the Charleston, the kick-line, wing steps and soft shoe to name a few. Jay and his orchestra are terrific as are the vocalists. They are especially impressive in "Dames", "Lullaby of Broadway" and "42nd Street". Scenic design is by Rob Dew while the multitude of gorgeous, colorful costumes are by Brian Horton especially impressive are the women's gowns for "Dames".The topnotch lighting and sound are by Tim Billman and Ryan McGinty. Leading this huge cast is Russell Garrett as Julian Marsh. Russell also appeared in "42nd Street" on Broadway. He tackles the demanding role of hard ass director, creating a stellar performance while doing so. His dramatic chops are shown as he whips the ensemble into shape and his comic side is seen in the "it was grand, really grand scene with Peggy Sawyer. Russell makes the scenes crackle with intensity and power and his marvelous voice is heard in "Lullaby of Broadway" and the "42nd Street" finale.

Playing the diva, Dorothy Brock is Gerrianne Genga. She shows off her voice in "The Shadow Waltz", "Getting to Be a Habit With Me", "About a Quarter to Nine" and "I Know Now". Gorgeous blonde Lauren DeFilippo is phenomenal as Peggy Sawyer. She infuses the character with energetic charm and naive behavior to pull it off. Lauren does a marvelous job with "Young and Healthy" , Charleston duet number, in "Go into Your Dance", a group number with some topnotch gals, in the rehearsal scenes with Julian Marsh where she learns how to kiss and in the finale segment of "42nd Street" with the chorus. Lauren is only 18 years old but she lights up the stage with her winning personality as well as her vocal and dancing prowess. Her younger sister just finished a run in "Billy Eliot" on Broadway. So talent runs in this girl from Texas' family.

One of the best voices in this show is Brandon Haagenson as Billy. His tenor voice soars off the charts in "Dames" and "Lullaby of Broadway". Brandon displays his tender side in his rendition of "I Know Now". He is a superb dancer and gets to strut his stuff in "We're in the Money" and in the finale of the show where he is dressed up as a sailor who gets shot while dancing with Peggy. Three scene stealing performers are Kevin Patrick Martin as Andy, Dennis Setteducati  as Bert and Katie Clark as Maggie. Kevin leads the chorus in the opening audition number, in "The Shadow Waltz", "Getting Out of Town" with the chorus, "We're in the Money" and "Dames". Kevin does his usual dynamite job in this show. Katie displays her singing prowess and dancing skills in "Go into Your Dance", "Getting Out of Town" and "Shuffle Off to Buffalo". Dennis leads the chorus in "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" while dressed as the groom. Lauren Gemelli as Anytime Annie leads the chorus in "There's a Sunny Side to Every Situation" and plays the bride in "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" as well as a tap dance with as Phyllis and as Lorraine. Lauren shows she is a triple threat performer in this show. Dorothy's suitors are well played by John Ricci as Abner Dillon, her sugar daddy and Todd Berkich as Pat Denning, her vaudeville partner and true love. Todd also wins many laughs as a comical doctor who tells Julian and the gang that Dorothy has a broken ankle. Kudos to this fantastic cast and crew on delivering a sensational show to the appreciative audience. So for a trip back to the 1930's and a tap dancing extravaganza to be enjoyed by one and all, be sure to catch "42nd Street" at the Ocean State Theatre Company before they tap dance their way out of town.

"42nd Street" (23 April - 18 May)
@ 1245 Jefferson Boulevard, WARWICK RI

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide