Review: “42nd Street” At Dallas Summer Musicals

By Jimmy Christopher

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I had never seen 42nd Street on stage, but did see the 1933 Busby Berekley film (adapted from a 1932 novel) and was eagerly awaiting the DSM season finale of the 2001 Tony Award winning Best Revival at Music Hall at Fair Park, anxious to “meet those dancing feet.”

No puns intended, but the feet were dancing from the start with the rousing opening number “Audition” featuring the nimble Lamont Brown as Andy Lee in his National Tour debut. The 26 member ensemble was sensational!  Their energy and precision nearly choked me up, it was so moving.  A tip of the cap, or “halo” as it would be in my case, to Tony nominated choreographer Randy Skinner.

Director/Co-Author Mark Bramble, a protégé of legendary producer David Merrick (1980 42nd Street) and director of the 2001 Tony award-winning Best Revival of 42nd Street, did a nice job flowing the dialogue to the songs.  The storyline was fairly simple……. hometown girl makes it big on Broadway after the star goes down.  There is not a lot to work with as far as story depth, but Bramble directed a gem.

With the musical set in the Depression 1930’s, scenic design by Tony winner Beowulf Boritt and lighting by Tony winner Ken Billington were both simple but highly effective.  Tony winner Roger Kirk created fabulous costumes, especially for “We’re in the Money” and the garden dancers for “I Only Have Eyes for You.”  Speaking of tunes, “Lullaby of Broadway”, “Dames, “Shuffle off to Buffalo” and “42nd Street” were all fabulous.

Mathew J. Taylor was phenomenal as Julian Marsh, the thug type, tough director of the musical within-the- musical “Pretty Lady”.  He was strong, sometimes romantic and nostalgic with a great speaking and singing voice.  Kaitlin Lawrence was tremendous as sarcastic, bossy leading lady Dorothy Brock (with one of the smoothest,  rangiest singing voices I’ve heard), the star who busts an ankle and goes down giving way to Peggy Sawyer who becomes a star.  It was evident that Caitlin Ehlinger was making her tour debut.  I just wasn’t convinced with her performance.  A more experienced actress might have pulled off a small town girl saving the Broadway musical role.  I really liked Britte Steel as the energetic, funny playwright Maggie Jones.  Leggy redhead Natalia Lepore Hagan gave an excellent performance as an understated Annie.

The finale was breathtaking but I was REALLY blown away after the curtain call with an encore that brought the theatre to its feet.   Come and meet those dancing feet at Music Hall at Fair Park through July 10.  Then at Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall July 12-17, 2106.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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