Photo by John Vecchiolla
The cast of 42nd Street is put through its paces.
The characters in 42nd Street are excited to be cast in a new Broadway musical, not just for the sake of their showbiz careers, but because the economy is bad and they’re grateful for the jobs—sound familiar at all? Luckily, even if you haven’t been touched by the recession, the Westchester Broadway Theater’s 42nd Street gives you a lot of show for your money.
Right from the very beginning, the production sends out a packed routine. The talented ensemble cast performs a dance number, ostensibly the characters’ auditions for the new musical. The dancers trot out a little soft-shoe, which gradually accelerates, at first just getting faster, then eventually becoming more complicated as well. By the end, it’s surprising that they haven’t stopped from sheer exhaustion—and that’s just in the show’s opening moments. Unfortunately for the dancers but fortunately for the audience, the cast doesn’t get much of a rest, either. The musical continues at the break-neck pace of the dancing, staging these show-stopping, full-ensemble numbers every few scenes or so—with the elaborate costumes and other trimmings, of course. (Contestants on Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance who think they have it rough because they have to perform one routine a week should check this out.) For a small stage, they certainly pack a huge production onto it.
While the endlessly impressive tap-dancing is the show’s main draw, and it delivers with plenty of it, it doesn’t encompass all of the production’s charms. The songs do their fair share of the work, many of them being old favorites: “Young and Healthy,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo”—the list goes on. Most of these are carried by the ensemble, but there are a few moments when the stars step into the spotlight, and the solos are simultaneously laid-back and impressive, especially when Dorothy Brock (Dorothy Stanley) takes on the title song, and when Julian Marsh (Tom Galantich) takes the lead in the beginning of “Lullaby of Broadway.” Actress Shannon O’Bryan, who plays the show’s ingénue, Peggy Sawyer, has played the same role in other companies across the United States, and she has the wide-eyed part down pat.
Like most shows about putting on shows, the plot is wafer-thin, with only the tiniest bits of dialogue shuffling the characters from one scene to the next. As such, heading out to 42nd Street is an easy night of entertainment. There are no real villains (except that dastardly economy, so we all can relate), and there are no heavy themes. The characters don’t overcome any heart-rending traumas like certain Broadway shows today. (You don’t have to worry about red, puffy eyes during the intermission at 42nd Street—and you can’t say the same for Next to Normal.) You can just sit back, watch the cast race from number to number, and get lost in a little sparkle.
42nd Street, back from a month-long holiday hiatus, will be at the Westchester Broadway Theatre (1 Broadway Plz, Elmsford 914-592-2222) through February 6.