42nd Street is a feel-good tap dancing hit at the Alcazar

We’re In the Money production show stopper in BAM’s 42nd Street at the Alcazar Theater

42ND STREET: Musical. Music by Harry Warren. Lyrics by Al Dubin. Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble. Direction by Daren A.C. Carollo. Bay Area Musical Theatre (BAMSF), Alcazar Theatre, 650 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA. 415-340-2207 or visiting www.bamsf.org. November 11 – December 10, 2017.

42nd Street is a feel-good tap dancing frenzy at the Alcazar Rating: ★★★★☆

Bay Area Musicals (BAM) a non-profit theatrical group tap dances into the start of its third season with a colorful, entertaining fast paced staging of the musical 42nd Street. They have gathered a cast of 21 local artists clothe them in attractive changes of costume and added an eight piece on stage band to back them up. The energy of the mostly young cast is infectious and will have you cheering for them just as you will be cheering for Peggy Sawyer to fulfill prediction of Julian Marsh: “Sawyer, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!.”

That line does not show up until late in the second act but it is the backbone of the story that had its origins in the 1933 black and white film of the same name. It is the classic backstage drama of putting on a show when the star falls and breaks her ankle and must be replaced by a newcomer. The film started Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rodgers on to successful careers. The dance numbers were “classic Busby Berkeley” who was a legendary film choreographer.

But we are getting ahead of the story. Peggy Sawyer (Samantha Rose) from the small town of Allentown, PA arrives in New York to audition for the musical “Pretty Lady” being mounted by the martinet impresario Julian Marsh (DC Scarpelli). Yes, she finally gets a role in the chorus after the opening tap dance of “Audition” the first of many dance numbers that seem marvelously endless. She meets the lead tenor Billy Lawlor (Nikita Burshetyn) who becomes the love interest with “Young and Healthy.” Scene by scene the other main characters are introduced.  Maggie Jones (Marisa Cozart) and Bert Berry (John Brown) are co-writers of “Pretty Lady.”

Fading Broadway star Dorothy Brock (Laurie Strawn) is introduced with the satiric “Shadow Waltz.” She can sing but cannot dance. That is not good but she is still the lead. She has the hots for handsome gambling man Pat Denning (Peter Budinger) her former vaudeville partner and romantic interest. Then there is Texan Abner Dillon (Venis Goodman) Dorothy’s “Sugar Daddy.” The three experienced chorus girls given prominent parts are: “Anytime Annie” (Janet Wiggens), Lorraine (Hilary McQuade) and Phyllis (Catrina Manahan). They take Peggy under their wings.

Although the great music includes “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” “Dames,” “I Only Have Eyes For You” and the title song, “42nd Street: The Lullaby of Broadway” it is the tap dancing numbers included with the dazzling songs that thrill the audience.

The marvelous songs that the present generation might consider archaic actually are pure delight and you will catch yourself humming the melodies as you leave the theater. This frequently revived show is a perfect vehicle for community-based theatre giving local talent a chance to show their stuff.  BAM has gathered a non-Equity professional cast for the major roles and a bevy of beauties and three male dancers that tap dance up a storm including the post curtain call number called “Bows.”

Collectively, all are competent singers with individual accolades. Samantha Rose as Peggy conveys innocence and determination and the audience bursts into applause as the true “Star!” in the 42nd Street Ballet finale. Laurie Strawn does more than an admirable job singing and acting but muffs one of the most quoted lines from the show: “Now go out there and be so swell that you’ll make me hate you!” Maggie (Marisa Cozart)  and the girls are showstoppers with Shuffle Off to Buffalo. Nikita Burshteyn does not project the image of a matinee idol and could show a bit more worldliness for his role as Billy but receives 3 stars out of 4 for his singing of “Dames” worthy of a spot in a Ziegfeld Follies. Busby Berkeley style We’re in the Money song and dance is one the show’s highlights.

DC Scarpelli  as Julian Marsh, the tough task master producer, has to wait late into the show to demonstrate his rich baritone voice and command of the stage with “Lullaby of Broadway.” Venis Goodman as “sugar-daddy” Abner is a joy watch when given a share of center stage in act two.

Under Daren A. C. Carollo’s direction the show flows through many scene changes proving that time flies when you’re having fun even though the running time is two hours and 20 minutes  (with intermission). The flamboyant costumes selected by Brooke Jennings add a touch of class to the ladies of the chorus who are the real stars of the show. It earns a solid should see rating.

CAST: Samantha Rose, Peggy Sawyer; Nikita Burshteyn, Billy Lawlor; Laurie Strawn, Dorothy Brock; DC Scarpelli, Julian Marsh; Marisa Cozart, Maggie Jones; John Brown, Bert Berry; Venis Goodman, Abner Dillon; Zach Padlo, Andy Lee/ M Ens; Peter Budinger, Pat Denning; Kevin Singer, Mac/Thug/Doctor; John Charles Quimpo, Oscar/M Ens; Janet Wiggins, Annie; Hilary McQuaide, Lorraine; Catrina Manahan, Phyllis; Danielle Cheiken, Ensemble/Dance Captain; Ensemble: BriAnne Martin, Lindsey Meyer, Alyson Chilton, Leslie Waggoner, RJ San Jose, Carlos Guerrero.

ARTISTIC TEAM: Daren A.C. Carollo, Director; Matthew McCoy, Choreographer; Jon Gallo, Musical Director; Daren A.C. Carollo/Matthew McCoy, Scenic Design; Brooke Jennings, Costume Design; Courtney Johnson, Lighting Design; Wayne Roadie, Prop Design; Anton Hedman, Sound Design; Barry  Despenza, Sound Board Op; Jackie Dennis, Wig Design; Ryan Weinstock, Stage Manager; Wayne Roadie, Assnt. Stage Manager; Richard Gutierrez, Wardrobe Master; Stewart Lyle, Technical Director; Clay David, Scenic Artist.

ORCHESTRA: Sonja Lindsay, Trumpet; Jeremy Carrillo, Trombone; Larry De La Cruz, Woodwinds; Will Berg, Woodwinds; Keith Leung, Woodwinds; Kyle Wong, Bass; Randy Hood, Drums; Jon Gallo, Keyboard/Conductor.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com.