Theatre under the Stars
42nd Street Music by Harry Warren, Lyrics by Al Dubin

Dates and Venue July 5 - August 17, 2018 Show: 8pm, Lobby opens: 7pm; even-numbered days in July, odd-numbered days in August | Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park

Director Robert McQueen Choreographer Shelley Stewart Hunt Music Director Christopher King Set Designer Brian Ball Costume Designer Chris Sinosich Lighting Designer Gerald King Sound Designer Bradley Danyluk Stage Manager Collette Berg

Reviewer John Jane

With its charming “small town girl makes it on Broadway” story, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in a razzmatazz production of 42nd Street with a loaded cast. Set in the early thirties at the beginning of the Great Depression (economists don’t even use that word anymore) initially in New York City, it’s essentially a show about show business.

The show opens on Brian Ball’s set of the austere backstage of the 42nd Street Theatre. Among the costume racks and tables and chairs there’s a rather beaten up piano still capable of putting out a good tune. Dancers are getting ready for auditions for Pretty Lady - a new musical comedy. Just as dancers have been selected and the dance captain is taking names, Peggy Sawyer (Paige Fraser), a starry-eyed novice bounds into the theatre, almost knocking over the director. Predictably, even though casting has closed, she gets a chance to join the chorus line. But when Dorothy Brock (Janet Gigliotti) the show’s marquee performer falls and breaks her ankle, Peggy is blamed for the mishap and is fired. Julian Marsh, the director (Andrew Cownden) decides to close the show, but the company rallies around and implores him to bring Peggy back and make her the star – okay, it was a Hollywood movie first!

Janet Gigliotti and versatile actor Andrew Cownden carry the show forward. Ms. Gigliotti takes no prisoners as the deprecatory diva who only gets in the show because her admirer is the producer. She gets all the best songs – and does them justice. Cownden shows generosity and gusto as the indomitable director. Hearing him interpret the show-stopping “Lullaby of Broadway” and a gentle reprise of “Forty-Second Street” at the end of the show is worth the price of the ticket.

Paige Fraser acquits herself well as the talented newcomer who makes good by performing within her abilities. Among the supporting cast, Lucy McNulty (daughter of veteran actors Kevin McNulty and Susinn McFarlen) looked too young for the role of Maggie Jones, but nonetheless, demonstrates she is the complete package. Chorus girls Jolene Bernardino as Annie, Joscelyne Tamburri as Lorraine and Julia Ullrich as Phyllis lift the show by bringing verve and a joie de vivre.

Despite a few glitches with sound early on, the energy and vitality of this talented cast and outstanding production quality made this show a real success. Thanks to Theatre under the Stars for bringing another wonderful production to Vancouver audiences.

© 2018 John Jane