By Thomas de Martino/Orange County Tribune
Hard times come, hard times go: but it is these dreams that we desperately hold on to that sustain us.
Westminster’s Rose Center Theater takes you back in time with a new production of the fan-favorite musical 42nd Street, directed by Tim Nelson. At the height of the Great Depression, renowned director Julian Marsh (Chris Caputo) is casting for his brand new musical “Pretty Lady”: The rhythmic thunder of numerous tap shoes echoes throughout the theater, while actor Billy Lawlor (Trevin Stephenson) and countless dancers rehearse under the Directed by choreographer Andy Lee (Evan Martorana).
After a disastrous first impression — and a collision — with the irascible director at rehearsal, aspiring dancer and Peggy Sawyer (Amanda Jean) are comforted by show writer Maggie Jones (Kristin Henry), who invites them to lunch with a group of the dancers. The group is stunned by the small town girl’s stunning dancing skills and voices in for Marsh as he witnesses part of their impromptu performance.
But the director has far bigger worries than a new addition to the ensemble: After losing his shirt in the 1929 crash, he’s poured every penny into this production – but falling short means he has to rely on the support of wealthy Abner Dillon (JD Bark). That means he also has to deal with the apple of Dillon’s eye, fading prima donna Dorothy Brock (Barbara Hinrichsen) and her demands… as does Maggie and fellow actor Bert Berry (Randall J. Goddard).
But she has concerns of her own, because although Beau Abner helps fund the show, unbeknownst to him, her heart truly belongs to her old vaudeville partner Pat Denning (Mark Wickham)… which leads her to resent his kindness to misconstrue the unfortunate Peggy as affection.
So many obstacles to overcome and so little time… as the desperate director and tireless writers work to fend off trainwreck after trainwreck of personalities, does the show even have an opening prayer?
This production of 42nd Street is the latest iteration of the popular musical at the Rose Center Theatre, and observant viewers may notice some returning cast members from previous productions, such as Stephenson as wannabe Lothario Lawler and Caputo as the disabled director Marsh (who directed his performance somehow lends even more poise and seriousness than previous shows.)
Jean’s rendition of aspiring dancer and Allentown native Peggy is as fresh as her performances are perceptive, lending not only her understated charm to the character but also showcasing the actress’s undeniable dancing and singing talents.
Other notable performances include Hinrichsen’s Dorothy Brock, so determined to control her circumstances when control slips from her… revealing the vulnerable woman beneath the diva’s polished exterior; Dannielle Green as flirtatious and affable “Anytime” Annie; Henry’s compassionate and determined Maggie; and Wickham’s smitten Pat Denning, so in love with his mistress and yet so uncomfortable with her circumstances.
The ensemble as a whole is the heart and soul of the show: for as much color as the main characters bring to the show, the fuller and more alive is the theme song’s myriad dancing feet, the spectacular choreography, and the obvious love and care that director Tim Nelson and put the cast into this production.
A tale of dreams, reality and a determination to bridge the two, packed with catchy and well-loved tunes, standout dance numbers and sparkling vocal performances, this latest 42nd Street is a show worth revisiting.
42nd Street, Amanda Jean, Chris Caputo and Barbara Hinrichsen star in this classic musical tale about the trials and tribulations of becoming a star. Playing now through July 24th at the Westminster Rose Center Theatre, 14140 All American Way, Westminster 92683. Tickets are available online at rosecentertheater.com.