Review and Performance Photos by Andy Sharp: 42ND STREET, Georgetown Palace, August 26 - September 25, 2016
'Extravaganza' is the word for the Georgetown Palace Theatre's production of 42ND STREET. Or maybe EXTRAVAGANZA.
Gower Champion's 1983 stage version reworked the 1933 film featuring a clutch of Depression-era stars in a let's-put-on-a-musical story with Busby Berkley choreography and Sol Polito cinematography. The story is essentially the same: famous stage director Julian Marsh (Rick Felkins) is penniless because of the 1929 crash. He's casting and rehearsing a musical titled Pretty Lady. It's a backstage story in which we get little idea of what appears to be a formulaic song-and-dance show but follow closely the backstage drama. This includes a bitchy leading lady (Michelle Cheney) who breaks her ankle just before the opening; a plucky young girl from Allentown, PA (Alicia L. Cornwell) who gets fired but then receives her big break on the way to stardom; and the brash and cheery tenor (Jim Lindsay) who befriends the newbie.
The film with its closeups and deliriously photographed dance numbers captured the imagination of a depressed United States and set the pattern for a lot of 1930's American cinema. Champion's adaptation relies on huge stagings of dance numbers for its impact. Bobbing in the swirling mass of costumes and dance, the leads are somewhat lost, and for a time the audience may not be sure just who the story's about. Cornwell as aspiring chorine Peggy Sawyer has a fair amount of talk early on but doesn't blossom until later in the show. In retrospect it seemed that the real protagonist was Felkins as the worried autocratic director, who surprises agreeably in Act II with solo openings for Lullabye of Broadway and for the finale Forty-Second Street.
Choreographer Jesse Smart and her core group of female dancers are fun to watch. The cast can't match the thundering simultanaiety of Busby Berkley's stagings, of course, and only one early scene with Cheney involving a couple of spots and some huge looming shadows hints at the visuals of the film. The Palace doesn't provide its usual meticulously crafted sets for this one -- for one thing, the story is set much of the time in rehearsal halls and on 1930's stages. And for another, director Ron Watson and costume designer Ramona Haass of A Cut Above Costumes must have needed every inch of space behind the proscenium for costume storage and quick-change areas for the dance numbers that kept erupting onstage.
August 26 - September 25, 2016
810 South Austin Avenue
Georgetown, TX, 78626
Weekends August 26 - September 25. Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Music by HARRY WARREN Lyrics by AL DUBIN
Book by MICHAEL STEWART & MARK BRAMBLE
Based on the Novel by BRADFORD ROPES
Tickets on sale July 1, 2016. .
Prices: General: $28*
Student(10-22)/Active Duty Military (with ID): $15*
Children(9 or younger): $11*
*All individual ticket prices include a $1.00 Historic Preservation Fee.