keeps 'Street' afloat
"dancing fools" are tapping their hearts out at Richter Park, where "42nd Street,"
the season finale for Musicals at Richter, is playing through Aug. 12.
When they're tapping their precision
routines and when the principal performers are singing the melodious songs "Lullaby
of Broadway," "You're Getting to Be A Habit With Me" or "We're In the Money" everything
bounce of the show is constantly flattened by the dated not just nostalgic book,
which cuts short the liveliness the players so energetically stir up. And the
pace of director Richard L. Sanders hasn't compensated for those dry patches.
In fairness, the
production has been beset with rehearsal problems. Being rained out three times
in the first weekend, including the dress rehearsal, could certainly account for
improves a performance like playing before an audience, and the second act did
tighten quite noticeably at the performance I attended.
script by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, however, which tries to lovingly capture
the camp innocence of the 1933 movie of the same name, was never very stimulating
and most of the jokes fall flat. Too much reverence for a passe script is not
always a good thing. The best approach is to keep things moving fast.
The sentimental and purposely
silly story concerns the rise of Peggy Sawyer from unknown to overnight star.
A young hoofer recently arrived in New York City from Allentown, Pa., she goes
on when the leading lady is accidentally injured. It's a Valentine to show-business
make-believe that just needs a good rewrite.
on the plus side is the show's choreography. It's dazzling and the chorus of 20
rarely misses a beat. The clever dance patterns by Nikki Sanders, who also plays
the ingenue Peggy Sawyer, were modeled on those Gower Champion created for the
original Broadway show in 1980.
the story of Peggy and her backstage boyfriend Billy Lawlor, played by perky song
and dance performer Matthew Johnston, is the sweet heart of the story, it's Dorothy
Brock, a famed but possibly over-the-hill actress, who dominates the stage.
Priscilla Squiers is Dorothy
and she catches all the vanity and arrogance that is often the baggage of stardom.
It's a role the audience loves to hate in the beginning but later finds warm and
professionally trained voice can soar when the song calls for it and she puts
a lot of power and polish on the title song, "42nd Street."
Sanders makes a winning Peggy, dancing with Ruby Keeler abandon and precision
and singing like a true star in the making. She and Squiers team up late in the
show for its best-sung number, "About a Quarter To Nine."
Garrison and Donald Leona play a pair of songwriters who resemble Betty Comdon
and Adolf Green and have fun as newlyweds on a Niagara Falls-bound train singing
"Shuffle Off To Buffalo" in the company of a bevy of scantily clad beauties.
Garrison has a smart-aleck style
that brightens many a moment.
the success-driven producer Julian Marsh and looking faintly like David Merrick,
who produced the show on Broadway, Al Recchia effectively lends the one real touch
of drama to the show and sings well to boot.
costumes are by Nikki Sanders as well and they have the splash of a Busby Berkley
movie. Director Sanders, her father, has cleverly staged the opening number of
the second act, "There's A Sunny Side to Every Situation," as a lights-on/lights-off
was somewhat unsure and the orchestra suffered from a lack of rehearsal, sounding
less polished than musicians for the season's previous shows.
Street" continues through Aug. 12 at Musicals at Richter, Richter Park, 100 Aunt
Hack Road, Danbury. Performances are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 p.m.;
the grounds open at 7:15 for picnicking. Chairs are available by reservation.
Tickets are $15, seniors $12, students and children $10. Call the box office at