Nicole Miller stars as the ingenue Peggy Sawyer, who is turned into a star overnight in the musical “42nd Street” at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Ind. | Johnny Knight photo
♦ Through October 21
♦ Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Rd., Munster, Indiana
♦ Tickets, $38-$42
♦ (800) 511-1552 or (219) 836-3255;
Updated: September 19, 2012 10:50AM
It’s a high-octane, kick-up-your-heels tap-dancing extravaganza, but “42nd Street” has so much more than fancy footwork going for it.
The sizzling revival of the musical at Theatre at the Center in Munster, Ind., also offers an inspirational, beat-the-odds, show biz story that is an antidote for our tough times.
Like the 1933 Busby Berkley film from which the stage musical was adapted by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, “42nd Street” is set against the depths of the Depression, which makes it particularly relevant today.
The show opens as director Julian Marsh has created many jobs for the new musical comedy he plans to open on Broadway. Yet one thing after another goes wrong, and when the show’s demanding diva breaks a leg, Marsh turns to an inexperienced chorus girl to save the jobs and the show.
The show’s delicious musical numbers, by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, such as “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off toBuffalo,” “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me,” “We’re In the Money” and the title tune, come through with joyful exuberance under William Underwood’s masterful musical direction.
There’s no doubt that this tap-crazed musical features a dazzling rat-a-tat tap style that is irresistible. Close your eyes during one of the crescendo chorus-line numbers and you will hear the clicking synchronization dozens of dancing feet. It’s a credit to choreographer Linda Fortunato and the show’s energetic hoofers that the riveting tap is so precision perfect.
This revival, which has been lovingly directed by William Pullinsi, is a wonderful tribute to the exhilarating excitement of the grand Broadway musicals. But it’s also a celebration of some exceptional artistic talent. Nicole Miller dances up a storm as the shy and unknown star-is-born Peggy Sawyer, who has to learn a dozen dance numbers in two days. But then what woman wouldn’t dance her heart out for handsome, golden-voiced Larry Adams, who plays Marsh, the intense theater director in love with musical comedy?
Also contributing choice portraits are Paula Scrofano, delightfully comedic as aging diva Dorothy Brock, and Dale Benson, a hoot as Abner Dillon, Brock’s befuddled sugar daddy.
They don’t make great shows like this anymore, which is all the more reason to rush out to see it.
Betty Mohr is a local free-lance writer.