THE WALL TO WALL DANCING AND THE INFECTIOUS SONGS MAKE THIS A MUST SEE HOLIDAY EXPERIENCE
A tap dancing frenzy has taken over two stages here in the Bay Area - The first at the sold out run of 42nd STREET at the Pacific Coast Rep in Pleasanton Ca. that closed their 8th season Nov 18th. Now the frenzy continues as Bay Area Musicals opens their 3rd season with the Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble musical. Red Flag; BAM’s company of 21 high stepping dancers is dangerously close to the SF’s downtown fault line. The dancers - often 20 strong on stage at one time - are so thunderous it feels like they could spark a 3.0 quake. This full throttle production of 42nd STREET is now on stage at the Alcazar Theatre only through December 10th.
BAM Artistic Director and Choreographer Matthew McCoy said “we decided we wanted to challenge ourselves for the first show of our third season. 42nd Street is without a doubt the biggest show that we have put on. I nearly lost my mind with creating the choreography and the sets, but I couldn’t resist this show. We have something alive and beautiful.” Directed by one of my favorite Bay Area stage producers, Daren A.C. Carollo; he has teamed an excellent craft team including the priceless Jon Gallo as music director. The cast is solid with some of the Bay Area’s finest talent including the exceptional D.C. Scarpelli as the classic Broadway director, Julian Marsh.
The show has a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin. Considered the icon for Broadway hoofing, 42ND STREET" is built around the biggest tap dance numbers any stage can possibly hold. It is a highly popular musical about show people. Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the 1933 film of the same name, the musical uses songs from the film written by the composing team of Warren and Dubin along with new numbers they composed.
The show features such familiar tunes as "We're in the Money," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "You're Gettin' to Be a Habit with Me" and the title song “42nd Street.” Between the original 1980 Broadway run and its 2001 revival, the musical has logged more than 5,000 performances on the Great White Way, and its many National tours. The number of dance songs in this version, and their sheer stamina is jaw-dropping. There are eight precision dance numbers just in the first act. In its entirety the show is a marathon master class in soft shoe, shuffles, side steps, kick lines and solos that will at times make you want to dance in the aisles.
The Tony Award winner for Revival of a Musical, 42nd STREET is a Broadway classic. Peggy Sawyer played by the pitch perfect Samantha Rose, lands a bigger break in New York City. TBA winner Nikita Burshteyn plays the lovable tenor Billy Lawlor who shows Peggy the backstage ropes as they sing and tap through “Young and Healthy” that sets the pace of the wonderful solos and duets in this two and half hour dance romp.
The leading lady, Dorothy Brock, injures her ankle, Peggy gets the chance of a lifetime to rise from showgirl to star. The marvelous Laurie Strawn plays the diva and gives Brock that evil female lead charm, especially during her solo “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me” that includes the “kids” in the chorus. With showstopping tap numbers and hits such as "Getting Out of Town" and "Lullaby of Broadway," choreographed by McCoy, he uses every tap move in the book and more. The signature number “42nd Street” is a 15 minute tap dance number in the second act and McCoy pulls out all the show stopping glamour and razzle-dazzle you see in professional tap lines. His chorus of talent is all top scale hoofers, including Janet Wiggins, Hilary McQuaide, Catrina Manahan and the dance captain, Danielle Cheiken.
Hot head Broadway director Julian Marsh is trying to put on a big dance show called Pretty Lady in the middle of the Great Depression and he needs the funding for the show that Brock's wealthy boyfriend, Abner, played by the dapper Venis Goodman who has agreed to put up funds to keep the musicals lights on. Peggy immediately clashes with Brock, including stumbling into her during rehearsals making Dorothy fall and break her ankle. Will the show go on? Who could possibly fill in for Dorothy. Yes, the old backstage drama is predictable, the story is lightweight, but the combination of the wall to wall dancing and the infectious songs from Warren and Dubin make for a must see experience.
One of my favorite lines from Marsh "I'm talking about musical comedy, the two most glorious words in the English language!" he says to up-and-coming star Peggy Sawyer. The powerful Scarpelli with a booming voice, hits the right notes as the perfection driven director, Marsh. This character was written to be much harsher involving some sexual harassment with his actors, that doesn’t play well these days. Both DC and the creative team met to tone down the “Weinstein factor”. The PCRT production kept lead, Edward Hightower, a more sexual predator as the role called for, and it seemed to work ok, but certainly made their Pleasanton sold out crowds deal with the topic.
Both Hightower and Scarpelli are Bay Area favorites on our local stages, often the two actors play the same roles. I saw both as Prof Higgins last season in My Fair Lady and they are always phenomenal in any roles they are given. My main admiration for the SF company is Carollo’s casting of an Asian actor in this powerhouse white bully character lead. Marsh sings “Lullaby of Broadway” and brings the passion of show business to the story, and wanting his musical to be the best as he bullies his actors to shine on stage. Both actors close the show and bring their dynamic swagger to these two standing O productions.
Rose as Peggy is an athlete in kitten heel tap shoes, and she nails her comic lines and Peggy's star transformation. As Marsh's brassy co-producer Bert played by the snappy John Brown clearly has a blast going as broad as possible, along with Marisa Cozart’s comic timing as the two adult side kicks Maggie and Bert. The electric Zach Padlo is the dance caption Andy Lee, Padlo shows off his keen tap skills alongside Rose and Burshteyn. The versatile Kevin Singer plays a few roles but he is a stand out as the meticulous stage manager, Mac, and shows off his dance skills in all the main production numbers.
Burshteyn flies across the stage as the lead tenor male in the show within a show PRETTY LADY is outstanding proving his show stopping talent in “Dames,” and the huge tap frenzy “We’re in The Money”. - Money includes some clever props, the round large dimes designed by Wayne Roadie that the company uses to dance atop. Roadie also made sure this prop heavy musical was equipped with the right suit cases, canes, top hats, and many show glitter you would see in a full size travelling musical including a bird cage.
The entire cast is outstanding, including; John Charles Quimpo, Janet Wiggins, Hilary McQuaide, Catrina Manahan, Danielle Cheiken, Alyson Chilton, Carlos Guerrero, BriAnne Martin, Lindsey Meyer, RJ San Jose and high stepping Leslie Waggoner. You could lose count of how many costume changes there are. The capable Brooke Jennings and her costume team Richard Gutierrez and wigs by Jackie Dennis keep the cast looking glam and 30’s stylish. Keep in mind there are often more than 20 people in one scene from swank sparkling dresses to plush white and marabou coats, these costumes are breathtaking. And you've never seen so many dapper dressed guys on one stage. During the course of the show, the men in the cast shine and bring three different tuxedo styles to their tap numbers.
Both McCoy and Carollo are credited for set design and the backstage look is open including Jon Gallo’s eight piece orchestra is on stage. Gallo’s music direction is superb with clear, stellar vocals from the large cast while creating the sound of an orchestra twice as large as the eight musicians on stage. The two level set also keeps the large cast busy on stage and along with the other creative elements, work well to take us back to the 1933 setting. Clay David is the scenic artist and ads his wonderful flair to Brock's diva dressing room. Carollo gives the Alcazar theatre that open feel as he brings his actors out into the audience to give stage directions to the kids on stage.
The light design by the clever Courtney Johnson takes us from a backstage feel to the glamor of a full big musical opening. Rows of lights capture the huge tap numbers, and Anton Hedman’s sound design keeps each actor easy to hear in the frenzy on stage. With a busy dance show mics can get lost or overpowered by the steel tap shoes, but the sound is excellent. With a character playing the on stage manager, I still need to mention the splendid work of BAMs stage manager, Ryan Weinstock, who keeps this fast pace production on cue with the many stage entrances from both the wings and from the audience.
This classic backstage musical is full of practically nonstop dance and fun characters, it is a treat— with an infectious glee and a show that will surely put a smile on everyone's face. You'll leave the Deco Alcazar theatre fighting the urge to make jazz hands at the ushers.
There's no question that 42nd STREET will dazzle you this holiday season. This has to be on your Broadway bucket list. There's nothing like seeing, hearing and feeling 21 tap dancers in a classic razzle dazzler. BAM continues their 3rd Season; next up THE WEDDING SINGER that opens February 17th. This summer the company will close their season with THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME July 7th. But in the meantime buy a 30’s cocktail in the lobby of the Alcazar and enjoy a holiday treat, 42nd STREET.
Bay Area Musicals Presents
Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble
Directed by Daren A.C. Carollo
Choreography by Matthew McCoy
Musical Direction by Jon Gallo
MUST CLOSE DEC 10th
Two hours 20 min with one intermission
650 GEARY STREET, SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102
Photo’s by Ben Krantz
THE TAP PROVED NON STOP
AT THE PCRT PRODUCTION
42nd Street at Pacific Coast Rep closed November 18th - at the Firehouse Arts Center in Pleasanton.
The entire run sold out and the tap
in their production was marvelous - Directed by Joy Sherratt, she teamed up with Music Director, Brett Strader and Choreographer, Suzanne Brandt.
Highlights included the performance of TBA winner Edward Hightower as director Julian Marsh. The charming Jessica Maxey as the green newbe Peggy Sawyer, the adorable Ali Lane has the entertaining Maggie Jones.
Also in the company Shelli winner Rachel Powers, Woodminsters favorite Rod Voltaire Edora, Zach Mohammed and Derek Tavis Collard as the side kick Bert.
The production (Photo Credit: Berenice Ku Sullivan). These photos feature Jessica Maxey (Peggy Sawyer), Andrew Mondello (Billy Lawlor), Maria Mikheyenko (Dorothy Brock), and Melissa Momboisse (Ann "Anytime Annie" Reilly).