By Thom deMartino/Orange County Tribune
Hard times come, hard times go: but it is those dreams we desperately cling to that sustain us.
The Rose Center Theater in Westminster harkens back to yesteryear with their new staging of the fan-favorite musical “42nd Street”, directed by Tim Nelson. At the height of the Great Depression, renowned director Julian Marsh (Chris Caputo) is casting for his brand-new musical, “Pretty Lady”: the rhythmic thunder of scores of tap shoes reverberate throughout the theater as actor Billy Lawlor (Trevin Stephenson) and myriad dancers rehearse, led by choreographer Andy Lee (Evan Martorana).
After a disastrous first impression — and collision — with the irascible director at the rehearsal, aspiring dancer and Peggy Sawyer (Amanda Jean) is consoled by show writer Maggie Jones (Kristin Henry), who invites her to lunch with a group of the dancers. The group are left speechless at the small town girl’s jaw-dropping dance skills and speak up on her behalf to Marsh when he witnesses part of her impromptu performance.
But the director has far bigger worries than a new addition to the enscmble: after losing his shirt in the crash of 1929, he’s put every penny into this production – but falling short, he has to rely on backing by the wealthy Abner Dillon (JD Rinde). Meaning he must also contend with the apple of Dillon’s eye, the fading prima donna Dorothy Brock (Barbara Hinrichsen) and her demands … as do Maggie and fellow show writer Bert Berry (Randall J. Goddard).
Yet even she has her own worries, for though beau Abner is helping bankroll the show, unbeknownst to him her heart truthfully belongs to her old vaudeville partner, Pat Denning (Mark Wickham) … which leads her to misconstrue his kindness towards the hapless Peggy as affection.
So many obstacles to overcome, and so little time … as the desperate director and never-wracked writers work to stave off one trainwreck of personalities after another, does the show even have a prayer of opening?
This production of “42nd Street” is the latest iteration of the beloved musical at the Rose Center Theater, and sharp-eyed viewers may notice a few returning cast members from previous productions, such as Stephenson as the would-be Lothario Lawler and Caputo as the stymied director Marsh (who somehow brings to his performance even more poise and gravitas than in previous shows.)
Jean’s interpretation of aspiring dancer and Allentown native Peggy is as fresh as her performances are sharp, giving the character not only her homespun charm but also showcasing the actress’ undeniable dancing and singing talents.
Other standout performances include Hinrichsen’s Dorothy Brock, so determined to control her circumstances, as said control slips from her grasp … revealing the vulnerable woman beneath the diva’s polished exterior; Dannielle Green as the flirtatious and affable “Anytime” Annie; Henry’s compassionate and determined Maggie; and Wickham’s lovestruck Pat Denning, so enamored of his beloved, yet so uneasy with their circumstances.
The ensemble as a whole is the heart and soul of the show: for as much color as the main characters bring to the show, the fuller, more vibrant tapestry is the innumerable dancing feet of the titular song, the spectacular choreography, and the obvious love and painstaking care that director Tim Nelson and the cast have poured into this production.
A tale of dreams, reality and the determination to bridge the two, full of memorable and beloved tunes, stellar dance numbers and resplendent vocal performances, this newest “42nd Street” is a show well worth revisiting.
“42nd Street”, Amanda Jean, Chris Caputo and Barbara Hinrichsen star in this classic musical tale of the trials and tribulations to reach stardom. Now playing through July 24 at the Westminster Rose Center Theater, 14140 All American Way, Westminster 92683. Tickets available online at rosecentertheater.com.
Categories: Arts & Leisure