Have you ever left the theater so in awe of what you just watched that you wish the box office was still open so that you can get tickets to return? That was my reaction as I left 42nd Street at Encore Musical Theatre Company. My second thought was, how did they fit that giant Broadway tour of 42nd Street onto the Encore stage. But it’s not a tour. It is all locally produced and created. But really, it is pure Broadway.
The lion’s share of the credit goes to Scott Thompson. The cast from top to bottom shine and rise to his demanding choreography and direction. Bravo.
If you don’t know what 42nd Street is about, you and I are probably not friends. It’s the musical for musical lovers. A Ziegfeld era director is mounting a big new Broadway musical and it follows the show’s development from auditions to opening night. Along the way you meet a new chorine, old diva vet, established “juvenile” tenor, the writer and composer, and a whole lot of fun mayhem.
David Moan plays Julian Marsh, director extraordinaire, and he is as usual perfect for the role. Sarah B Stevens turns in a jaw-dropping performance as Dorothy Brock the diva and steals every scene she is in. Young chorine Peggy Sawyer is played by Allison Bell and she is delightful with a clear, beautiful, singing voice and outstanding tap and dance ability. Supporting parts are perfectly cast and are played by Sebastian Gerstner, Gayle E Martin, Keith Kalinowski, Bobby MacDonell, and John Bixler.
Sarah Tanner creates a picture-perfect set based on the Broadway original. The show is built around large set pieces: backstage at two theaters, the train station, a Pullman sleeper, a cocktail party, performances on stage and it’s all there and it looks perfect. Projections by Dave Early and lighting by Nikki Belenski look spectacular. This is the highest tech show Encore has ever done, and it shows in every scene.
Costumes by Marilee Dechart assisted by what seems to be a small army are stunning and there are hundreds of them. Add hats and wigs and everything looks glamorous and true to period. The many many props are handled perfectly by Anne Donevan.
But what is a musical without music, and R Mackenzie Lewis handles this with aplomb. His Orchestra sounds four times their size and vocal work is terrific throughout. “Lullaby of Broadway” is electrifying choral work.
Scott Thompson has re-created many of the original dance numbers crafted by Gower Champion, later adapted by Randy Skinner. The dancing here is simply outstanding. This cast is unbelievably talented, and you will absolutely be thrilled by what you see here.
I have to say in closing that 42nd Street is my all-time favorite musical. Whether you are seeing it for the first time, or in my case, probably the 20th if not more, you will be astounded by this production. Get your tickets now they will not last. Reviewed at final dress tech 06/01/23.
42nd Street runs at the Encore Musical Theatre Company through June 25th. theencoretheatre.org, (734) 268-6200
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