Also see Tracy's review of 1776
There is no better way to forget the troubles of the world than indulging in a big, splashy musical and 42nd Street certainly fits the bill. With its vibrant music and energetic choreography, the touring production of the 2002 Tony winner for Best Musical Revival has tapped its way into Washington and landed at National Theatre.
Musical comedy doesn’t get much more traditional than 42nd Street. The show features choreography with a Busby Berkley feel as well as several old musical favorites such as “We’re In The Money” and “Lullaby of Broadway.” Some may think this show is old-fashioned and even a bit cheesy. Perhaps it is, but the bottom line is 42nd Street is just plain fun.
Set in 1930s New York, the show features Peggy Sawyer, a fresh-faced kid from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Peggy hasn’t been in town long when she is cast in a big Broadway musical directed by the legendary Julian Marsh. Although talented, Peggy stumbles into mishaps involving her determined director and the spoiled star of the show, Dorothy Brock. Through all the chaos, Peggy learns that the old showbiz adage is true – the show must go on.
This touring company employs a highly skilled cast. The ensemble’s dance numbers are flawless. The principles are just as accomplished. Catherine Wreford as Peggy is very enjoyable. Her dancing is impeccable and she has a very pleasant voice. As Julian Marsh, her driven director, Patrick Ryan Sullivan is outstanding (Wreford and Sullivan are pictured right). His commanding portrayal is extremely charismatic. Additionally, Blair Ross has created a delightful diva in the form of Dorothy Brock.
One cannot fail to mention the fine performances given by Patti Mariano as Maggie Jones, Frank Root as Bert Barry, Dexter Jones as Andy Lee and Alana Salvatore as Annie. Unfortunately, there is one weak link in this cast. Robert Spring who plays Billy Lawlor is a fine dancer with an easy smile. Sadly, he has some obvious pitch problems and in the end his singing is just not up to par.
Douglas W. Schmidt’s set design captures the tone of the piece and Roger Kirk’s wonderful costumes give the show even more sparkle.
Many would agree with Julian Marsh when he states, “ ... musical comedy – the most glorious words in the English language.” Of course that statement is only true if the show is done right. Fortunately for DC audiences, 42nd Street is indeed done right. 42nd Street runs through April 12th.
The National Theatre
Cast List (in order of appearance)
Andy Lee: Dexter Jones