Arts & Entertainment

Hear the Beat of Dancing Feet at Music Mountain Theatre’s ’42nd Street’

By John Dwyer

“42nd Street” is a feel-good, all-American, can-do musical, whose simple purpose is to inspire and entertain. It starts with a tap dancing chorus so precise that Gower Champion, whose original choreography has been used in this Music Mountain Theatre production, must be beaming.

The show is based on the movie “42nd Street,” whose choreography was done by Busby Berkeley. The songs from that show were transferred to the stage musical, and include “We’re in the Money,” “Young and Healthy,” ”Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me” and “4nd Street.” These songs were crafted by the songwriting team of Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics). The stage musical was supplemented by additional Warren and Dubin tunes like “Lullaby of Broadway” from other movies.

The story is a simple one: Young Peggy Sawyer comes from Allentown, Pennsylvania, with a dream of getting on Broadway. She lands a role in a show, Pretty Lady” and, when the lead Dorothy Brock can’t go on, the producer/impresario Julian Marsh gives her a chance to be a star. Can she do it?
I think we know the answer.

There is a side story of an affair that Dorothy Brock is having and there are opportunities in the show for character actors playing the writing team of “Pretty Lady,” Bert Barry and Maggie Jones, and the juvenile lead, Billie Lawlor.

From beginning to end, the dancing, which is a centerpiece for this musical, is amazing. Kudos to Jordan Brennan and Louis Palena and the cast for being tap dancing fiends. The young chorus are smiling smiles so wide and pitching the songs so well and so hard that Broadway lights seem dim in contrast to their shiny faces. This really is what being in a musical is all about.

After seeing several shows at Music Mountain Theatre, it seems, there seems a wealth of talent in the Bucks/Hunterdon County area, and it is so good that it amazes. Talent that is so on the money that they could be making money as a Broadway professional. It is exciting to have Music Mountain Theatre as a resource that is developing talent and showcasing actors who have unquestionable gifts and real possibilities in the arts.

Jaime Geddes is a brilliant Peggy Sawyer. She is a true triple threat and is charming as the quintessential ingenue, Peggy Sawyer. Brian Kelly is Julian Marsh, the producer of “Pretty Lady.” Mr. Kelly has a naturalness on the stage that serves him well. He exudes the confidence and the dynamic personality that a producer of a Broadway musical should have. With these two strong leads, the story being told well is guaranteed. But on top of it all, the rest of the cast is darn good, as well. Kudos to Anna Hentz as stage diva Dorothy Brock, Louis Palena as the charming tap dancing whirling dervish Billy Lawler and to Edward Honan and Joan Hoffman as the writers of the show, Bert and Maggy. Mr. Honan and Ms. Hoffman are delightful in mining every ounce of comedy out of their roles.

As I was leaving the show humming the tunes, still marveling at the amazing dancing, I picked up a
brochure. The Theatre School at Music Mountain Theatre has four tap dancing classes!

As you shuffle ball chain to the box office, you may also be inspired to take a class. Music Mountain
Theatre is creating Broadway dreams, inspiration on stage, and perspiration in class. There is so much to be admired — “Who could ask for anything more?”

The show continues thru Jan. 21, and tickets can be purchased online.

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