“42nd Street” has it all

DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM dualcritics@comcast.net

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The Artist Series Broadway in Jacksonville opened 2016 with “42 Street,” a Tony Award winning musical and dance extravaganza. This musical about a backstage musical, which is based on a famous 1933 film of the same name choreographed by Busby Berkeley, opened on January 12th and will be on stage at the Times Union Center in downtown Jacksonville through Sunday, January 17th.


If you read no further than this, let it be known that if you like musical theatre, this lavish production of “42nd Street” has it all and you are going to love it. Magnificent and precision tap dancing and lots of it. A cast of over forty performers, who not only dance up a storm but also have marvelous singing voices. And probably close to two hundred costumes, ranging from rehearsal garb with simple shorts and blouses, to everyday dresses and hats, to glamorous satin gowns covered with sequins. Much of the visual impact comes from the bright colors used — we saw lots of yellow, red, and coral mixed with a range of others.


The show business plot is about the desire of Broadway director Julian Marsh (Matthew Taylor) to have one more hit show during the depths of the Depression era. As his show “Pretty Lady” progresses through rehearsals, the company struggles with broken hearts and broken promises. Dorothy Brock (Kaitlin Lawrence), a temperamental diva, is the star of the show until she breaks her leg just prior to the opening. Her replacement is newcomer Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger), whose performance is the company’s only hope of saving the show. On opening night, Director Marsh utters one of the most famous lines in show business history with “You’re going out there a youngster but you’ve got to come back a star!”

The show has some of Broadway’s greatest hit songs that will have you humming along; songs like “You’re Getting to Be A Habit with Me,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “We’re in the Money,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “42nd Street.”

This tap-happy musical is a nostalgic trip back to the 1930s, when actors were grateful for a weekly salary of $32.00 and audiences were grateful for the escape that theatres offered from the economic issues of the times; the best seats in the house cost $4.40. After opening on Broadway in 1980, the show ran for 3,500 performances. It was successfully revived in 2001, and recently began this road tour throughout the country.

42StreetStudio0103r2_webWithin five minutes after the curtain goes up, you realize you are seeing an extraordinary production of one of the greatest and most beloved shows of American Musical Theatre. Featuring beautiful women, handsome men, deadpan humor, and all that dancing, dancing, dancing, who could ask for anything more? Don’t miss it. Call for reservations at (904) 442-2929 or visit fscjcartistseries.org.


About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.