Starting the holiday off with a tap dancing extravaganza, the Fulton Theatre serves up “42ndStreet” with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer and music by Harry Warren. The score is chock full of Broadway standards, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “We’re in the Money”, “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me”, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and 42ndStreet.
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes it was turned into a Hollywood film in 1933. Though this pre-Code black and white musical film, starring Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, Dick Powell, George Brent, Ruby Keeler and Ginger Rogers had choreography staged by Busby Berkeley, it still exuded the tone of a hard-bitten, cynical take on the Great White Way. The more glamourous 1980 Broadway production, produced by David Merrick and directed by Gower Champion, won the Tony Award for Best Musical that year and became a long-running hit.
The show centers on the infamous and tyrannical director, Julian Marsh, who is trying to put up a Broadway show at the height of the Depression to recoup his losses from the ’29 stock market crash. Stage struck Peggy Sawyer, fresh from Allentown, Pennsylvania, manages to get cast in the chorus of the Broadway-bound, “Pretty Lady” through a lucky break. Though she tangles with the leading lady, Dorothy Brock, Peggy eventually proves her innate singing and dancing talent and goes on to save the show.
The show stars Denise Whelan as the imperious Dorothy Brock who must string along her millionaire, sugar daddy, Abner, as he is bankrolling the production. Ms. Whelan is every inch the prima donna, basking in the glow of her former stardom as she tries to keep up with the rest of the young, talented cast. Ms. Whelan is particularly touching in her Act II scene with Peggy where she wishes her good luck and they sing “A Quarter to Nine”, together. Sarah Quin Taylor (Peggy Sawyer) is a veritable dancing machine with a clear, strong voice and wide-eyed appeal. Nicholas Dromard is a triple-threat as the completely charming, utterly lovable Billy Lawler. Tom Galantich is simply terrific as the fast talking, hard-hitting, pull no punches director, Julian Marsh. But the real stars of the show are the entire chorus of hoofers who will tap your troubles away for two hours and fifteen minutes.
The choreography by Marc Robin is incredibly exciting. There are circles dancing within circles; there are mirrored walls and mirrored ceilings; there is dancing down staircases — much of this which must be in homage to Busby Berkeley. The final dance in Act II is “Forty-Second Street” which Mr. Robin has totally reimagined. It now takes place in a nightclub and he has created a scenario reminiscent of “Slaughter on 10thAvenue”, complete with shady characters and a murder. Though the pacing of the first act is a bit frenetic, the second act allows us to breathe a little between sumptuous musical numbers.
The 14 piece orchestra is sizeable and fills the theatre only the way a live orchestra can. Let’s hear it for live music! The costumes are an array of colorful sequined outfits and gowns — as glitzy and glamorous as they come.
If you’ve never seen 42ndStreet, treat yourself to this show whose score is basically the Great American Broadway Songbook.
For tickets call the Box Office: (717) 397-7425
or go to www.thefulton.org
42ndStreet Book by Michael Stewart & Mark Bramble
Lyrics by Al Dubin & Johnny Mercer
Music by Harry Warren
Musical Direction by Jonathan Lefever
Directed & Choreographed by Marc Robin
12 North Prince Street, Lancaster,PA 19102
Playing now through December 30, 2018