The next time you check your 401(k), take a page from the kids in “42nd Street,” now in a polished, high-energy production at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford.
Instead of being a gloomy Gus when you see your bottom line,
If life imitates art, before long your family will join in. Who knows? Even the cat might don tiny tap shoes and shuffle along.
Under director-choreographer Randy Skinner at the dinner theater, the kids dance everywhere.
Got 40 cents in your pocket?
Dance to lunch, and back from it.
Your show’s closing?
The rent’s due?
Tra la la la la la la la.
It’s catchy, this dance thing.
And so, it turns out, is a sunny disposition.
Chock-full of dancing girls and lavish production numbers, “42nd Street” tells the upbeat story of Peggy Sawyer, a girl from Allentown, Pa., who arrives in New York City with 40 cents in her purse.
Before long, the plucky Peggy is in the chorus of a Broadway-bound musical, “Pretty Lady,” directed by hard-charging Broadway legend Julian Marsh.
This being a Depression Era musical, Peggy is not long for the chorus. When the show’s star, Dorothy Brock, breaks her ankle, the show is in peril — until the kids in the chorus suggest Peggy go on.
Three guesses as to what happens next?
With the Harry Warren-Al Dubin songs “We’re in the Money,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” and “Lullaby of Broadway,” the score is as light and lively as the plot.
As Peggy, Shannon M. O’Bryan is adorably perky, an?Energizer bunny of tap and song and gee-whiz who can’t wait to show you what she’s got. She doesn’t disappoint.
Before long, she even rekindles that Broadway dream in the cynical Marsh, played to perfection by Tom Galantich, who knows when to go over the top and when to pull it back in.
He manages to deliver cornball lines like “You gonna lose all of your dough because of a dame?” and “Sawyer, you’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” without even a hint of irony.
He snarls plenty, but he also finds Marsh’s softer side, breathing life into what in lesser hands might be a cartoon.
As Billy Lawlor, Todd Lattimore is a dynamo of tap energy with a voice that soars, a fine fit for the perky O’Bryan.
Notable, too, is Ann-Ngaire Martin as the songwriter Maggie Jones. A memorable Tessie Tura in WBT’s “Gypsy” a couple of years back, Martin’s timing is razor sharp.
Dorothy Stanley is appropriately brittle and aloof as the star Dorothy Brock.
Near the end of a brisk first act, one wishes Stanley would take a moment before beginning “I Only Have Eyes for You.”
Without a setup, it’s a singer singing a song. If she were to pause and consider what has just happened — her lover has left her — the song would come from a deeper place.
Producers Bob Funking and Bill Stutler have, in Skinner, a director-choreographer who has a long history with “42nd Street.”
He was a dance assistant to Gower Champion, who choreographed and directed the original Broadway production. When the musical returned to Broadway in 2001, Skinner provided the musical staging and new choreography.
“42nd Street” is all about dancing — and Skinner and his company set the tap bar high from the outset. The opening number builds from a simple time step into a take-your-breath-away production number.
It’s the first of many production numbers.
Later, “Lullaby of Broadway” is a showstopper, changing speeds and styles on a dime and building, building, building to a big payoff. It is something to see.
Gail Baldoni’s glittering costumes add greatly to the mood set by Andrew Gmoser’s lighting. Notable, too, is the eight-piece orchestra under Jeff Tanski, which holds its own amid all that tapping.
At one point late in the action, Dorothy warms to Peggy, telling her “the public wants youth, freshness and beauty — and that’s what you are.”
And that’s what you’ll get at Westchester Broadway Theatre in “42nd Street.”
No matter what your 401(k) statement says.
If you go
What: “42nd Street”
Where: Westchester Broadway Theatre, 1 Broadway Plaza, Elmsford.
When: Through Nov. 29, returning Dec. 30 and running through Feb. 6. Thursdays through Sundays (with selected Wednesday matinees and evenings). Wednesday and Thursday matinees, with lunch at 11:30 a.m. and show at 1 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday evenings, with dinner at 6 and show at 8. Sunday matinees, with lunch at noon and show at 1:30 p.m. Sunday evenings, with dinner at 5 p.m. and show at 7.
Tickets: $60 or $73, depending upon the performance. Includes a served meal before the show.
Did you know?
“42nd Street” was a product of its time. A blues-busting splashy 1933 film, it came to Broadway in 1980, directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, who died Aug. 25, 1980, the day “42nd Street” opened on Broadway. Powerhouse producer David Merrick famously held the news of Champion’s death until post-curtain speech from the stage, stunning the cast and audience.
Photo by John Vecchiolla: Julian Marsh (Tom Galantich) teaches newcomer Peggy Sawyer (Shannon M. O’Bryan) about “The Lullaby of Broadway” in “42nd Street” at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford.