42nd Street

Melinda Schupmann Reviews - Theater

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.