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42nd Street

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3-D Theatricals' 10th anniversary season kicks off with a visually appealing version of the perennial favorite, 42nd Street. Originally directed and choreographed by Gower Champion in 1980, it won the Tony for Best Musical and has been an audience favorite ever since. "We hadn't done a tap show in far too long," Artistic Director T. J. Dawson announced, and that led to the company's decision to choose this show for the opening of its 2018-2019 season.

It's 1933, and the autocratic director Julian Marsh (Davis Gaines) has decided to mount a large-scale show called Pretty Lady, a risk he is willing to take in order to regain his financial and personal prominence during this time of the Great Depression. His star is Dorothy Brock (Sandy Bainum), a choice he might not have made had the show not been bankrolled by Brock's sugar daddy, Abner Dillon (Herschel Sparber). She is extravagant and arrogant, long past her prime.

Into this show, now in rehearsals, comes Peggy Sawyer (Gillian Bozajian), fresh from Allentown, PA, hoping for her break onto the Broadway stage. Through a highly contrived set of circumstances, she gets a spot in the chorus and begins to prove her special talents. The juvenile lead, Billy Lawlor (Quintan Craig), takes a shine to her and a romance develops.

Often taking center stage is Tamara Zook as Maggie Jones, one of the writers of Pretty Lady, whose comedic abilities add zest to the largely formulaic storyline. Chorines Annie (the particularly vivacious Adrianna Rose Lyons), Phyllis (Isabella Olivas), and Lorraine (Jenna Lea Rosen) join her in "Go Into Your Dance," an opportunity for Peggy to show off her dancing skills, which she manages delightfully.

Gaines is the pro in this show. He manages to make Marsh both dictatorial and vulnerable as he struggles with his star, the show, and his clear preference for Peggy. In "Lullaby of Broadway" and a touching "42nd Street" reprise at the end of the play, he adds star power to the large, energetic cast.

Directed with precision by David F. M. Vaughn, the 40-member cast sings and taps with high spirits and sparkle. With over eighty wigs and a hundred costumes, the production numbers, enhanced by Corey B. Hirsch's fine musical direction, often dazzle.

Bozajian and Craig are likable as central characters with nice voices and pleasant production numbers. Michael Starr is a standout with some fine dancing as the show's choreographer, Andy Lee. As Maggie's partner, Bert Barry, Corky Loupe also enhances the popular "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" with Annie, Maggie, and the chorus girls.

A solid performance by Jonathan D. Mesica as Brock's boyfriend grounds Bainum's sometimes over-the-top theatricality. She is best in a sensitive "About a Quarter to Nine" with Peggy as she leaves the show to the budding star after she breaks her ankle and can't continue.

Choreographer Kami Seymour does yeoman work with her young dancers on the almost too-small stage. Frequent costume changes and split second timing make the dance numbers the most effective aspect of the production.

Original music by Harry Warren and Al Dublin produced such standards as "We're in the Money," "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," and "Lullaby." They are particularly well served in this production.

Stephen Gifford's set design, Jean-Yves Tessier's lighting, and Julie Ferrin's sound all greatly enhance the show. Peter Herman's  wigs also jazz up the diverse looks of the chorus.

3-D Theatricals maintain a solid presence in musical theater in Southern California when large shows like this are less frequently produced than they used to be. They are high quality and most often a breath of fresh air. Upcoming are Shrek the Musical, The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, and The Secret Garden. They are nicely diverse and should make for a great season.

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight

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.”

ABOUT ELLEN RICHARD

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.