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BROADWAY SERIES Energy and talent enliven classic tale



Published: Wed, January 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



When '42nd Street' taps into town, it's quite an event.

YOUNGSTOWN -- "Julian Marsh is doing a show!" And every dancer and chorus kid in town wants to be in it. The show being referred to is "Pretty Lady," which is the show within the show in the hit National Tour of "42nd Street" which opened at Powers Auditorium on Monday.

You had better hold on because this production picked everybody up and took them on a wild ride. Based on the classic film of the same name, "42nd Street" is the story of Peggy Sawyer, a chorus kid from Allentown, Pa., who unexpectedly gets a job in the chorus of "Pretty Lady."

Her dream has materialized, but wait, that is only the beginning. It is opening night and the star of the show goes down with a broken ankle. With no understudy, whatever shall we do?

The solution

Of course, Peggy gets the call and has to learn dialogue, songs and choreography in record time to save the day. And save it she does. Mara Davi plays Peggy with unbounded energy. She's cute, talented and can sing and dance up a storm. This is Davi's first national tour and she is certainly making a mark for herself for the future. Watch for that name. You will see it again.

But Davi is only the tip of the iceberg in the talent and energy category. Everyone is a standout here. Natalie Buster has a field day playing Dorothy Brock. the diva star of "Pretty Lady." She is so good at being self centered, mean and nasty in this role that she becomes the perfect personification of the temperamental star of that era. You can't wait for her to make another entrance to see what tantrum she will throw next.

Julian Marsh, the legendary producer of "Pretty Lady," is played by Ron Smith. Smith gives a full bodied performance of the conceited, demanding, perfection driven showman. He is sharp and powerful in his delivery and his scenes with Brock are like two kegs of dynamite with an endless explosion.

Both Maggie and Billy are handled admirably well by Maureen Veronica Illmensee and Kyle Dean Massey, respectively. Their reoccurring appearances add some great fun moments to an already enjoyable production.

Many talents

It is unfortunate that space does not permit mentioning more of the cast. They are all spectacular. There is certainly something magical about tap dancing. And with 50 dancers all tapping at the same time, hold on to your seat. And this production has about as much magic as you will ever see anywhere. Much of that magic is some of the great old Broadway standards in this show like; "You're Getting To Be a Habit With Me," "Lullaby of Broadway," "About a Quarter to Nine," and "Shuffle Off to Buffalo." The staging and choreography is impeccable with dazzling numbers such as, "We're in the Money," as they do a great tap number on giant dimes, and of course, the rousing finale "42nd Street." The costumes are glitzy, the lighting colorful and dramatic and the sets are well designed right up to the impressive finale staircase.

For anyone who enjoys musical theatre, they know that the chorus and the dancers are the hardest working people in show business. In this production, you can't wait for the next full company number. From beginning to end their energy leapt off the stage and ricocheted off of every wall in the theatre. Those "dancing feet" of "42nd Street" will be remembered for a long time to come.




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