“You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back … a star!”
It’s one of my favorite lines, a charmingly cornball expression of moxie perfect for its Depression Era show.
It is, of course, Julian Marsh’s pep talk to Peggy Sawyer in “42nd Street,” the spring musical at Eastchester High School, where the husband-and-wife team of director John Gwardyak and choreographer Karen Zambelli have the cast firing on all cylinders. (I put a little of their tap in the video below.)
Gwardyak & Co. have surprises up their sleeves, one of which I’m permitted to share: In the opening number, that’s middle school principal Scott Wynne as “Skippy O’Hara” and high-school business teacher Phyllis Rothschild as “Bubbles Fauntleroy.” The two tappers hold their own at the audition but are kicked to the curb in a blatant act of age-ism. Wynne tells me he played Julian Marsh at Lafayette College in Pennsylvania, but, sadly, that didn’t help him at this audition.
I love it when staff get involved. It’s fun for them, and fun for their students to see them in a new light.
The thing about this year’s musical at Eastchester is Gwardyak’s ability to build esprit de corps that is in keeping with the show’s plucky feel. In “42nd Street,” everyone’s pulling together for the good of the show. At Eastchester, the same is true.
And it was heartening to hear him talk about the power and the challenge of being in the chorus.
“In the chorus, you get to make up your own story and tell it,” he told the cast before a recent rehearsal.
Tonight, they tell those stories.
And dance their legs off.
After all, Julian Marsh is doing a show!
“42nd Street,” at Eastchester High School, 7:30 p.m., April 4 and 5; 2 p.m., April 6.
Here’s the Running Lines video I shot at Eastchester. Enjoy!