The way director Pat Rinello sees it, next weekend’s production of “42nd Street” at Rye Neck High School is a sort of comic stimulus, a chance to forget the financial crisis and escape.
When the blue curtains part, three dozen bright and shining faces tap their way downstage in a high-octane opening number that will make you forget AIG in 1-2-3.
“It’s a couple of hours of hope and optimism, and nobody can do that better than kids,” she says. “If there’s any hope, the kids can find it.”
“42nd Street” won the Tony Award for best musical in 1980 and best revival in 2001. It’s based on the Depression-era movie about Peggy Sawyer, a plucky girl from Allentown, Pa., who comes to Broadway with a dream and becomes a star. Songs include “Go Into Your Dance,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me,” “Young & Healthy” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”
Rinello says the cast can appreciate more fully the musical’s 1933 setting, when times were tough. Times are tough now, too.
“The kids are aware that this is something that might affect them, something that’s so burdensome for their parents,” she says. “It’s an issue of real concern.
“When they do that number, ‘We’re in the Money’ and they sing about finding a dime, to them it’s a joke, but I tell them, back then a dime was a lot. And today, we worry where every penny is going.
“We talk about the parallels. People are losing homes. So it’s relevant and it’s real.”
Jaclyn Pipolo, 17, a senior, plays Peggy, a character she calls “true to my personality.”
“She has a bubbly personality and she’s eager and will do anything it takes to fulfill her dreams. It’s very true with me, too,” she says. “I want to be on Broadway. That’s my dream, too. I’m eager to get there, too.”
Peggy gets her break when she has to go on for the star, in a scene that has nervous Pipolo playing a nervous Peggy.
“It’s hard to show the audience what you feel right before you go on stage,” she says.
Usually, she’d hide that, she says. She’d hide the way she jumps up and down in the wings, shaking her whole body as she waits to go on. As Peggy, she shows a little of that, and she twiddles her fingers and fiddles with her lucky scarf.
Junior Frank Pisco plays Julian Marsh, the hard-charging producer Peggy keeps running into, literally.
“You have to respect him,” Pisco says. “He walks in the room, he affects people around him. He has a presence about him.”
Pisco says he found Julian Marsh by watching his director. “I based half my character on her,” he says. “I watch her and I have my character down.”
Parker Kazanji, a senior, is Billy Lawlor, the tap-happy chorus boy who befriends Peggy by singing “Young & Healthy,” a sort of “come-on-and-join-us kind of song,” he says.
Kazanji is hoping the song works at Rye Neck but also on another stage: He used it as one of his audition songs for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Lauren Amrhein plays the diva, Dorothy Brock, as “a mature, smoky, sexy old soul.”
To heighten the comedy, Amrhein is playing it like a drama – playing the hatred Dorothy has for producer Marsh with daggers in her eyes – and then turning on a dime and smiling when Dorothy is called on to sing and act.
“It’s a good role to go out on,” says the senior.
Photo by Angela Gaul/The Journal News: Jaclyn Pipolo as Peggy Sawyer goes into her dance.
Where: Rye Neck High School, 300 Hornidge Road, Mamaroneck.
When: 7 p.m., March 5, 6, 7
Tickets via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
With: Katie Acompora, Lauren Amrhein, Julia Arcese, Michelle Arena, Clarie Behar, Hallie Berkson-Gold, Camille Berlioz, Hayley Biegel, Katherine Borst, Jonathan Brown, Zach Britt, Joseph Buehler, Ashley Cables, Kerri-Lynn Cataldo, Shatise Chapelle, Mike DeVito, Zak Eisenberg, Jamie Lynn Falco, David Gaita, Jackie Galeano, Becky Galerne, Lynn Glener, Ammy Gonzalez, Marie Hasse, Katelyn Humphreys, Jess Iannuzzo, Mike Ianello, Jessie Kastenbaum, Caroline Kebbe, Kerry Kelly, Lane Kirschner, Nicole Maggio, Melissa Martini, James Mastoloni, Kelly Mancusi, Juliet Merson, Parker Morgan Kazanji, Jacob Mooney, Caitlin Morelli, Kaitlyn Murphy, Ginny O’Keefe, Jaclyn Pipolo, Leah Pisaniello, Frank Pisco, Alexa Pottberg, Corinne Reimers, Georgia Richardson, Matt Ritacco, Brian Santoro, Morgan Shaner, Alexandra Sullivan, Cassie Swinghammer, Chris Takara, Janina Temali, Elizabeth Tucci, Olivia Tormenta, John Varamo, Andriy Vengrenyuk, Sergio Villatoro, Alison Walensky, Alli Walther, Lilli Zinaman, Audrey Caster, Claire Casale, Debra Schwartzreich, Rebecca Rubin, Randi Strauss, Charles Joerss, Cassie Sawyer, Devon Brown, Jeff Kastenbaum, Matt Pinto, David Horvath, Joe Labella, Jonathon Brown, Danilo Servian, Stevie Walsh, Jacob Mooney, Adam Gourchane, Prince Gene Han, Danny Vasconez, Adam Gutierrez, Renan Jeremias, Jenn Marks, Sam Amatuzzo, Sylvie Luzio, Paola Melgarejo, Nicole Pennucci, Anna Solomon, Ashley Varamo
Watch Parker Kazanji and Jaclyn Pipolo sing “Young and Healthy” from “42nd Street” here.
View a gallery of photos of rehearsals for the show here.
Follow the entire season here.