Now, I must tell you. I’ve never really been a big fan of 42nd Street. Yes, the music is pretty catchy. However, the book is so “Aw, shucks!” hokey that it makes the book for Wicked look like Ibsen. (That’ll make me some friends.) The big draw for a show like 42nd Street is the dancing, and, unfortunately, putting together enough really talented “hoofers” on a limited budget this far away from the big cattle calls rarely happens. Then, what you end up with is a show with cute songs, cheesy lines, and adequate dancing. Thank you, but I’d rather stay home and look for “Rockford Files” re-runs on cable.
Not so, though, with Performance Now’s production of 42nd Street currently running at the Lakewood Cultural Center. Artistic Director/Director/Choreographer Nancy Goodwin has assembled a powerhouse ensemble that easily does justice to the (twice now) long-running hit Broadway musical.
The absolutely electric execution of Nancy’s impeccable choreography is worth the price of admission alone (only $20 for adults!), but there are also some really stand-out individual performances by some of Denver’s best. Kristin Hathaway is dead solid perfect as Dorothy Brock. (Kristin is always fantastic, but she seriously blew me away this time.) Bryan Bell barely touches the ground as the energetic Billy Lawlor. Lyndsay Dru Corbett stole my heart (again) as Anytime Annie. Mark LeBeau, Jr. is great fun to watch. (I so wish that more of you out there had seen Mark as the title character in Boulder Broadway’s Bat Boy.) Carla Kaiser Kotrc’s hilarious Maggie Jones steals every scene she’s in and, I think, a few she isn’t. (It’s Carla. We’d expect no less.) Eric Lentz’s Julian Marsh is absolutely bigger-than-life. Surprisingly not “bigger-than life”: Eric’s wife Jill, dancing away on-stage (amazing as ever) carrying their second child. (Dancers can hide anything!) Congratulations Eric and Jill!
Now, ladies and gentlemen, get out pen and paper.
Write at the top: “Ones to Watch!”
Underneath write these names:
Melissa Benoist (award-winning ingenue of THAC’s Cinderella and more)
Courtney Capek (Of MSCD’s award-winning The Robber Bridegroom and more)
Next add the name Maddie Franke as Peggy Sawyer in Performance Now's 42nd Street.
As much as 42nd Street relies on its dancing and strong ensemble, the musical lives or dies on the beauty, charm, grace, vocal talent, and rock-solid dance chops of its Peggy Sawyer. Young Miss Franke disappoints in not a single one of these areas. Now get this: she’s still in high school!
So write down those names, put them away in a safe place. Then, in a couple of years, pull them out and brag to your friends about how you knew what stars they would become.
Now, when I called to get tickets, I was told that all performances were sold out. However, I am told this a lot. (I have to stop using my real name.) I did manage to get a ticket, though. (I told them I was David Ambroson. They sat me in the back. Tough break, Dave.) From my vantage point, I did notice a few available seats. Some were singles. Some looked as though people had not shown up. (They have no idea what they missed!)
Be persistent. Be willing to sit in a separate seat from your companion. See this show! It’s definitely worth it. Definitely.