San Diego Musical Theatre’s “42nd Street” Leaves you Tapping Along
San Diego Musical Theatre’s 2016 season continues with their presentation of the musical comedy, “42nd Street”, at the Spreckels Theatre on Broadway. As the curtain slowly rose, for the classic opening tap dance number, the tone is set for what will be a tap dancing exhibition. This Tony Award winning musical is from a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, with music and lyrics by Harry Warrant and Al Dublin. The SDMT production is under the direction of musical theatre veteran James Vasquez, Music Director Don LeMaster, and Choreographer Jill Gorrie.
“42nd Street” was first based on a novel written in 1932 by Bradford Ropes and a 1933 Hollywood film adaptation. It is basically a musical about the making of a musical. It appeared first on Broadway in 1980, produced by David Merrick and directed by Gower Champion, who died on opening night. This high energy musical comedy focuses on the efforts of a somewhat dictatorial director, Julian Marsh, played by Broadway veteran Robert J. Townsend, who is dead set on producing a glitzy musical extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression. Marsh’s booming voice resonates with the songs “Lullaby of Broadway”, “Montage” and “42nd Street”.
Stand out performances, on this opening night for “42nd Street”, include the return to SDMT of actress Ashley Ruth Jones, as the starry eyed Peggy Sawyer, who is thrown into the limelight of starring in a musical to save the musical. Throughout the show, Ms. Jones displays an amazing tap dancing repertoire. Laura Dickinson as the aging, feisty actress Dorothy Brock, has a beautiful singing voice in numbers like “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me” and “I Know Now”. SDMT veteran Gabriel Navarro plays Billy Lawlor and has a wonderful tenor voice and great range as shown in numbers such as “Young and Healthy” and “Dames”. Craig Noel Award winner, Bets Malone, returns to the SDMT stage, after a recent engagement as Magenta in the “Rocky Horror Show” at The Globe. Ms. Malone brings both a powerful singing voice to the stage along with her comedic talent as Maggie Jones, Mr. Marsh’s assistant. Along with these performers, a talented singing and dancing ensemble of some 25 strong provided fun, high energy tap dancing numbers throughout the show. Classic Broadway songs came out of this musical, like “Lullaby of Broadway”, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo”, “We’re in the Money”, “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “42nd Street”.
The musical won 8 Tony Award Nominations in 1981, winning Best Choreography and Best Musical. “42nd Street” also won 2 Drama Desk Awards and a Theatre World Award. In 2001 the musical returned to Broadway and received 8 Tony Award nominations winning Best Revival of a Musical.
This is a fun, toe tapping musical and a classic from Broadway. “42nd Street” runs through June 12 with Thursday thru Sunday performances at The Spreckels Theatre on 121 Broadway Street. Ticket prices range from $30 – $70 and can be purchased online at www.sdmt.org or call 858-560-5740.