Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


42nd Street
Bay Area Musicals
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's reviews of The Game's Afoot and The Royale and Richard's reviews of Le Switch, The Lion in Winter, and The Morning After


The Cast of 42nd Street
Photo Courtesy of Bay Area Musicals
Bay Area Musicals is presenting a fantastic, toe-tapping 42nd Street, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin. I remember in 1934 seeing my first Busby Berkley movie, the film of 42nd Street, at a local movie house in small-town Piqua, Ohio. It immediately turn me on to film musicals, and I've been hooked ever since. I saw the original Broadway production in the 1980s at the Majestic Theatre with Jerry Orbach, Lee Roy Reams, and Tammy Grimes and in 1984 the London production starring Sheena Easton and a young Catherine Zeta Jones as Peggy Sawyer.

The stage version closely follows the Warner Brothers movie. It's a backstage fairytale. Producer Julian Marsh (DC Scarpelli) is producing the musical Pretty Lady for Broadway. He has hired temperamental star Dorothy Brock (Laurie Strawn) as the lead. Peggy Sawyer (Samantha Rose), a wet-behind-theĀ–ears young hoofer, gets her first job in this Broadway chorus. Romance blooms between Peggy and Billy Lawlor (Nikita Burshteyn), a member of the chorus.

Dorothy Brock breaks her ankle and Peggy Sawyer takes over. She has 36 hours to learn six songs, 10 dances, and 25 pages of dialogue in time for the New York opening. Julian Marsh says the now famous line: "You're going out a youngster, but you're coming back a star."

Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble's book is full of wisecracks and bitter, sharp one-liners, for instance in a scene at a restaurant where four chorus girls are seated at a table and one of them tells the waiter, "Five cups of boiling water, one tea bag"" or when Peggy has been rehearsing 12 straight hours for the title role and the director says, "I'll either have a live leading lady or a dead chorus girl."

Matthew McCoy has created the choreography for some spectacular precision tap dancing. What keeps the show alive are the dances and the singers. You're in for a treat with such numbers as "We're in the Money," with the chorus tapping furiously on drum-shaped nickels and dimes, "Dames," and "Shadow Waltz." The dancers dance their tuchises off on "Lullaby of Broadway." "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" shows the talented John Brown as a misbehaving groom and Marisa Cozart as his bride providing welcome comic relief.

Samantha Rose as Peggy Sawyer is beguiling. She has pitch perfect vocal cords and is marvelous in the tap dancing routines. Nikita Burshteyn is fantastic as Billy Lawlor, has superb vocal cords, and is awesome on the tap dances. DC Scarpelli rocks out "Lullaby of Broadway" with his powerful voice. The whole cast is outstanding, including Marisa Cozart, John Brown, Venis Goodman, Zac Padlo, Peter Budinger, Kevin Singer, John Charles Quimpo, Janet Wiggins, Hilary McQuaide, Catrina Manahan and Danielle Cheiken.

Daren A.C. Carollo directs the production with the large tap-dancing chorus filling the stage in glittering costumes provided by designer Brooke Jennings. Jon Gallo nicely leads the seven-piece orchestra.

Bottom Line: 42nd Street is a glitzy specular musical. If you are in the mood for a tapping musical like the good old days, this is best bet.

42nd Street runs thorough December 10, 2017, at Bay Area Musicals, Alcazar Theatre, 601 Geary Street, San Francisco CA. For tickets and information, call 415-340-2207 or visit www.bamsf.org, Next up is The Wedding Singer, which runs February 17 through March 17, 2018.


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