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42nd Street

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Best known as a 1933 movie musical spotlighting Busby Berkeley’s spectacular choreography, 42nd Street began as a novel, authored by Bradford Ropes. It wasn’t until 1980 that 42nd Street was transfigured into a stage musical – with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren. Under the frail Gower Champion’s inspired direction and crafty choreography, 42nd Street went on to win the 1981 Tony Award for Best Musical. Champion received trophies both for Best Direction and Best Choreography. It was the last show of his life.

42nd Street also had a much acclaimed Broadway revival in 2001, winning the Drama Desk Award that year for Best Revival of a Musical, as well as earning a Tony Award for Christine Ebersole for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.

Now, the rarely produced 42nd Street is being mounted by Long Beach’s Musical Theatre West, and with Jon Engstrom’s inventive direction and choreography, along with Michael Borth’s meticulous musical direction, the production marries bustle and beat; the result is irresistible.

Offering up such timeless tunes as "You’re Getting to be a Habit With Me," "We’re in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway" and, of course, "42nd Street,"the story is a simple one that is simply archetypal: An ingénue named Peggy Sawyer (a rhythmically gifted Tessa Grady) comes to audition for mega-director Julian Marsh’s new musical, Pretty Lady (Marsh is ably portrayed by the striking Damon Kirsche).  On the show’s opening night, the leading lady, Dorothy Brock (a scene-swiping Tracy Lore), literally breaks her leg. Pretty Lady appears condemned to be a Broadway no-show; that is until Peggy, in an effort to save the production and in the determined spirit of the-show-must-go-on, consents to take over the role in Dorothy’s stead. Peggy, however, has only 36 hours to prepare for her starring debut.

With skyscraper high production values (sets and props provided by Reagle Music Theatre of Greater Boston, Inc.), eye-dazzling costumes (by The Theatre Company), indispensible lighting work (by Jean-Yves Tessier), and a state-of-the-art sound design (by Julie Ferrin) we are treated to over a dozen and a half song and dance routines, in two acts. The numbers range from light and delightful ditties such as “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” to moving love songs like "I Only Have Eyes for You."

With a small army of well-honed performers, 42nd Street is an artistic feat and athletic achievement designed to please and thrill theatergoers of all ages. Other standout performers include tap dancer extraordinaire Jamie Torcellini as Bert Barry. When he teams with the show’s ladies for a rendition of "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," we are enthralled and thoroughly amused. Additionally, Zach Hess is perfectly vulnerable and entirely endearing as young Billy Lawlor. Hess’s showstopper comes in "Dames." Here Hess’s fancy footwork is on admirable display. Also, Barbara Carlton Heart is a standout amidst a cast of standouts. Her lovable embodiment of Maggie Jones is a tribute to great character acting – in the tradition of Eve Arden and Nanette Fabray. What’s more, Heart’s quintet-sized song and dance do-up, "Get Into Your Dance," provides an early sample of the enormity of talent at work on this 42nd Street.

42nd Street, a Musical Theatre West production, continues at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center – 6200 Atherton Street, Long Beach – through November 11. Evening performances are at 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Matinees are Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. There is also a Sunday performance on November 4 at 7 pm. For reservations, dial (562) 856 – 1999 ext. #4. For online ticketing and further information, visit



Laguna Playhouse Announces Ellen Richard as its Interim Executive Director

May 3, 2016…Laguna Beach, Calif…Laguna Playhouse Board of Directors announced today that, later this month, Ellen Richard will be joining Laguna Playhouse as its Interim Executive Director. The Playhouse announced late last year that it was undertaking a national search guided by Arts Consulting Group (ACG) for an Executive Director to succeed Karen Wood who had held this position for the past eight years.

Commenting on the appointment Joe Hanauer and Paul Singarella, Co-Chairmens of the Board of Directors, said “In the midst of our search we encountered this wonderful opportunity to engage Ellen while we continue to seek appropriate long-term leadership. To have found someone with the extraordinary qualifications that Ellen has is thrilling. She is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer at New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company where she was Managing Director. Ellen also has strong successes in supervising the construction of theatres in New York and also in San Francisco at the American Conservatory Theater, a rare and valuable skill set considering the contemplated major remodel and expansion of the Laguna Playhouse.” Laguna Playhouse Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham adds, “We are pleased and proud to have Ellen Richard, truly a rock-star in our field, join us as our interim Executive Director who will help guide the Playhouse during this transition.” Comments Ellen Richard, “I have quickly grown fond of Laguna Beach and the Playhouse. I embrace this extraordinary opportunity to join one of the country’s top regional theatres at this time in its remarkable 95-year history. I look forward to helping the Playhouse and working with their incredible Board of Trustees and Ann E. Wareham.”


Ellen Richard served as Executive Director of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco from 2010 through 2015.  During her tenure, Ms. Richard negotiated a deal to buy the Strand Theater in tech corridor of Mid-Market San Francisco, helped raise the $34,000 million to renovate and operate it and steered the design and construction for the project which opened in May of 2015. The complex featured two performance spaces and has won multiple awards.  She opened the 50 seat Costume Shop Theater, a 49-seat “black box” venue used for the company’s Master of Fine Arts students and for shows by other local companies.  Ms. Richard was also credited with expanding the company’s educational efforts, coming up with programs like the San Francisco Semester, which brings undergraduate acting students to ACT from around the world, and Stage Coach, a community theater mobile unit that reaches into diverse neighborhoods

She was also Executive Director of The Second Stage Theatre in New York City. During her tenure at Second Stage, which began in 2006 (through 2009), she was responsible for the purchase contract of the Helen Hayes Theatre, growth in subscription income of 48 percent, and growth in individual giving of 75 percent, as well as conceptualization of a highly successful gala format and “Second Generation,” a giving program through which donors enable deserving New York City youth to experience live theater. Under Ms. Richard’s leadership, Second Stage provided the initial home for the Broadway productions Everyday Rapture, Next to Normal, and The Little Dog Laughed.

From 1983 to 2005, Ms. Richard enjoyed a rich and varied career with Roundabout Theatre Company. The Roundabout that Ms. Richard joined was a small nonprofit theater company in bankruptcy. By the time she departed as Managing Director, Roundabout had become one of the country’s largest and most successful theater companies of its kind, with net assets in excess of $67 million dollars. Ms. Richard is the recipient of six Tony Awards as producer, for Roundabout productions of Cabaret (1998), A View from the Bridge (1998), Side Man (1999), Nine (2003), Assassins (2004), and Glengarry Glen Ross (2005). As producer of more than 125 shows at Roundabout, she had direct supervision of all management and marketing functions. She created Roundabout’s “Theatre-PLUS” programs, which include singles, teachers, family, gay and lesbian, wine tasting, and the 7 p.m. “Early Curtain” series, all of which grew to represent more than 10 percent of Roundabout’s 40,000 subscribers.

As director of design and construction at Roundabout, Ms. Richard was responsible for more than $50 million of theater construction for 11 projects. She conceptualized the three permanent Roundabout stages — The Broadway venues of Studio 54 and the American Airlines Theatre, and the Off-Broadway venue The Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre She directed the location search for Cabaret and oversaw the creation of the production’s environmental Kit Kat Klub. Prior to her tenure at Roundabout, Ms. Richard served as business manager of Westport Country Playhouse, theater manager for Stamford Center for the Arts, and business manager for Atlas Scenic Studio. She began her career working as a stagehand, sound designer, and scenic artist assistant.