The dancing will thrill you; the lyrics will make you smile and the music will stay with you long after the final curtain call. With a tap and a kick, the Gateway Playhouse opens its 65th season with the uplifting and entertaining 42nd Street.
Led by an impressive team of choreographers, including three-time Tony award nominee Randy Skinner, this revival of 42nd Street is full of high-energy dance numbers that will leave you breathless.
42nd Street is the story of Peggy Sawyer, a girl from Allentown, Pennsylvania who comes to Broadway in 1933 with big dreams and even bigger talent. Shannon O’Bryan, reprising this role from the national tour of 42nd Street, plays Peggy, who is soft spoken and shy, but knows she can sing and dance her heart out on stage. I found O’Bryan to be incredibly convincing as the shy Peggy. Her voice is sweet and lyrical, full of joy, and her feet—oh, those dancing feet!
“Young and Healthy” is one of the first numbers that really get you in the mood for some dancing, with Peggy and Billy Lawlor—played by the adorable Drew Humphrey—and features some new choreography from Skinner. It’s fun, it’s upbeat and the dancers do the routine justice. The playful chemistry between Peggy and Billy is intriguing and so much fun to watch—I found myself tapping my feet along to the infectious beat.
Although Peggy has missed auditions for Pretty Lady, the next big show by Broadway legend Julian Marsh, a lucky turn of events has the show in need of one more chorus girl, and Peggy finds herself in the right place at the right time—and in the show. Julian Marsh—played by the enigmatic James Lloyd Reynolds—needs this show to save his career.
Some of my favorite numbers in the first act include “Go Into Your Dance,” “Dames” and “We’re in the Money,” as the talented cast danced their way into my heart—I could feel their energy and love for the dance vibrating through the air.
The lead in Marsh’s Pretty Lady, Dorothy Brock, is nothing short of a diva. Played by Catherine LeFrere, who has a deep, sultry voice, a killer figure and a fierce stage presence, Brock hides her insecurities behind sarcasm and pettiness and denies herself true love for the love of money and fame. It isn’t until an accident on the opening night of Pretty Lady that leaves Brock with a broken ankle, unable to preform, that she realizes the error of her ways.
The second act is full of excitement and drama. The Pretty Lady cast urges Julian not to close the show and instead have Peggy play the lead. Marsh agrees and rushes to the train station to stop the homeward–bound Peggy and beg her to rejoin the cast as his leading lady. As the sweet chords of “Lullaby of Broadway” begin, prepare to be spellbound as Julian leads the cast into this awe-inspiring routine.
Ultimately, Peggy agrees and the show goes on in spectacular fashion. Pretty Lady opens on Broadway with Peggy as the lead, and even Dorothy Brock can’t help but respect the talented young girl from Allentown. The namesake scene “42nd Street” is everything you could want from a Broadway performance and then some. The glitz, the glamour, the music and the perfectly syncronized dancing makes the number truly unforgettable, and you will certainly find yourself humming this tune for days to come.
The cast and crew of Gateway’s 42nd Street should be incredibly proud. A show this monumental is only as good as the people behind the scenes and onstage, and once again Gateway has brought Broadway to Bellport in style.
42nd Street will continue dancing in Bellport through June 8. For tickets and information visit gatewayplayhouse.org. Next up for Gateway is Smokey Joe’s Café, playing June 11 – 18. Mary Poppins will grace the stage in Patchogue from July 2 – 19, and South Pacific will be there July 23 – August 9. The Addams Family closes the season at the theater in Bellport from August 27 – September 13.