Peggy Sawyer is new to showbiz.
When she shows up at auditions for “Pretty Lady” in the tap-happy musical “42nd Street,” she’s fresh off the bus from Allentown, with 41 cents in her purse.
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The Panas Players at Walter Panas High School present “42nd Street” this weekend, the final musical in the long string of spring shows across the Lower Hudson Valley that began in early February. There are 55 students in the cast, 25 on crew, and four in the orchestra.
In a case of art imitating life, Panas director James Filippelli cast a newcomer in the role of Sawyer: 14-year-old freshman Liora Bogin.
“Peggy is giddy and new to the business, but she’s really good,” Bogin said. “She’s a little different from everybody else.”
Bogin, who has been tap-dancing for four years, said one dance number, “Go Into Your Dance,” is a bit stressful, as it requires her to show off a bit, “but I can deal with that.”
In the show, it’s director Julian Marsh who does all the pushing, played by Nicholas Pearl, a Panas Players veteran who was Emile in last year’s “South Pacific.”
“I have to take Peggy under my wing and tell everyone what to do,” Pearl said.
The hard-charging Julian does that by biting off incredibly corny lines that suit the Depression Era story of kids putting on a show.
“You’re on your way to glory — and 32 bucks a week” he tells them at one point.
When Peggy has to go on for the injured diva, Julian bucks her up with the now-famous line: “You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”
Still, it’s clear that Julian loves the theater, Pearl said, a fact he shows in the song “Lullaby of Broadway.”
“It’s the first time Julian finally gets to show why he’s the director, why he knows what to do. He used to be the performer and now he’s showing them what he can do.”
Pearl said he likes those moments when he can “blow up at someone.”
“Outside of the plays, I don’t yell so much,” he said. “But on stage, I get into fights with Dorothy Brock and then I get mad at the whole cast when Dorothy gets hurt.”
Dorothy, the diva played by Faith Fleming, is Julian’s only rival.
“Neither of us like each other, but we respect each other and need each other,” Pearl said.
Fleming, a senior, said she likes the Act 2 scene “when she comes out and harasses everybody.”
“She’s like a little kid in a grown woman’s body. Anything that doesn’t go her way really sets her off.”
But there’s a softer side to her.
“At one point, she manages to hit rock bottom and push everybody away from her,” Fleming said. “That’s when you see a vulnerable side of Dorothy that no one expects.”
David Jagdeo, a junior, plays Billy Lawlor, the dancer who helps Peggy learn the ropes.
“This is my first experience tapping,” Jagdeo said.
How’s it going?
“It’s going …. really … um … interesting,” he said coyly. “The show is making me love tapping. I’m thinking of doing it, even after the show.”
Jagdeo said choreographer Andrew Black’s history with the show — he was in the recent Westchester Broadway Theatre production that the Panas cast saw — helps greatly.
“He’s such a professional,” he said.
“We knew we were doing ‘42nd Street’ when we saw it at the dinner theater,” Jagdeo said. “When I saw Billy, I knew that was the role I wanted to go for. And I got it.”
Where: Walter Panas High School, 300 Croton Ave., Cortlandt Manor.
When: 8 p.m. May 7, 8.
Call: 914-739-2823, ext. 555
With: Jesselyne Abel, Loren Alexander, Rebecca Barrett, Emily Bilotti, Liora Bogin, Katie Borchet, Zach Boyd, Kelly-Joe Briscoe, Austin Browne, Milo-Ben Civita, Peter Collins, Erin Cortes, Shannon D’Agostino, John DiBari, Frantz Estiimar, Ester Fernandez, Matt Feye, Faith Fleming, Jessica Flood, Megan Gansfuss, Kim Garrick, Hannah Gerety, Rochelle Harrison, Ray Hayes, Malika Hunt, David Jadgeo, Jay Jani, Jackie Kavana, Chelsea Keesler, Calli Leger, Samantha Lowman, Sara Lowman, Gabby Melillo, Will Moyer, Maura Murphy, Christina Narain, David Narain, Sierra Nelson, Brianna Nimphius, Ashley Offenbacher, Nick Pearl, Malcolm Pelletier, Andrew Perrella, Caillin Puente, Nicole Radzilowicz, Samantha Reyes, Morgan Rosh, Miranda Schlitt, Lissette Schum, Courtney Scott, Tyler Venizia, Alexiah Williams, Bryan Williams, Dan Witt, Alex Yasuna, Erica Almeida, Joey Bilotti, Sam Bingay, Gabriella Caruso, Amanda DeMizio, Alex Fay, Francheska Fernandez, Jake Ford, Dennis Grant, Zack Greiss, Daniel Jackson, Cameron Kashtan, Phoebe Leger, Vinnie Lotto, Brian Mattioli, Kathleen McAllister, Jimmy Mulamphy, Andrea Murphy, Will Paris, Eric Schlitt, Mary-Claire Siniscalchi, David Soler, Emily Stern, Elizabeth Yasuna, Gennaro Zingone, Heather Farr, Gregory Ecock, Mekter Nu, Jonathan Ortiz