42nd Street is stunning, sophisticated, sparkly, and full of surprises!
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” couldn’t be more accurate! America’s oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre has officially bid adieu to Dorothy and her fantastical Oz friends and has headed east to New York City.
Why? Because “Julian Marsh is doing a show!”
The second production of The Muny’s 98th season, 42nd Street, opens with this tremendous announcement—tremendous because it meant that Marsh (Shuler Hensley), a famed director, would be offering work in the height of the Great Depression. Performers pour in to audition for the show, Pretty Lady, but Peggy Sawyer (Jonalyn Saxer) trickles in just a little too late. She’d travelled all the way from Allentown, Pennsylvania, for the tryout, but fortunately her trip isn’t altogether lost when chorus girls Annie (Megan Sikora), Phyllis (Darien Crago), and Lorraine (Amy Van Nordstrand), along with writer Maggie Jones (Ann Harada), invite her out to get a bite to eat. The four manage to lift her spirits and boost her courage with the number “Go Into Your Dance,” urging her to start dancing her heart out when Marsh approaches. Their advice works—Peggy proves she’s worthy of a spot in the chorus after all!
As Peggy dances her way into the up-and-coming production, Marsh somewhat wishes there was a way to get the show’s leading lady to dance her way out of it. Dorothy Brock (the amazing Emily Skinner) is, in a word, phenomenal, but powerful voice or not, Marsh believes she’s past her prime and doesn’t have the patience for a prima donna. However, her man, the very wealthy Abner Dillon (Fred Zimmerman) is funding the show, so Marsh has no choice but to put up with her and to actively ensure she’s kept far away from her true love, Pat Denning (Joey Sorge).
Although things begin to go wrong for the characters on stage, The Muny’s production as a whole couldn’t have gone better! Next to Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, 42nd Street is the most elaborate, visually decadent show that I’ve personally had the pleasure of watching come to life at The Muny. The creative team truly outdid themselves—from Andrea Lauer’s dazzling costumes to Michael Schweikardt’s phenomenal scenic design to Denis Jones choreography to the excellent use of the space’s massive digital projector, 42nd Street is stunning, sophisticated, sparkly, and full of surprises.
Despite being packed with the types of songs you want stuck in your head as you stroll back to your car after the show, 42nd Street’s star is “the beat of dancing feet.” The tap dancing in this production is practically a character in its own right, adding elements of mood, rhythm, memorability, and story to what is already a terrific show.
“Come and meet those dancing feet on the avenue (The Muny’s) taking you to…42nd Street!” | Megan Washausen