Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Performers Dance Up a Storm in '42Nd Street'

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Performers Dance Up a Storm in '42Nd Street'

Article excerpt


Early in the backstage musical "42nd Street," the director Julian Marsh tells his Depression-era cast that they're going to "dance til your feet fall off for 23 bucks a week."

The cast members of the Manatee Players production are clearly dancing their feet off in this bright, funny and colorful musical about the efforts to stage a big Broadway show called "Pretty Lady" and one young dancer's dream of making her debut.

Director and choreographer Rick Kerby has staged several rousing tap routines -- along with numerous other dance styles -- from the opening audition number through "We're in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway" and the title song. His large cast doesn't seem to miss a step.

The tapping is loud and vibrant, but it too often misses a key ingredient -- a sense of joy. On Thursday's opening night, the cast knew all the steps and every move. But the dancing frequently looked almost mechanical, as if they were trying too hard to remember each step. Hopefully, after a few more performances, the dancers can settle in and start to enjoy themselves, or at least look like they are.

That's not to say it's not good as it is. It is amazing to think that a cast of community theater performers, some of whom may never have tap danced before, actually pull off so many big numbers so well and with so much energy.

And they manage to do all that dancing while singing with power and fine harmony under the musical direction of Rick Bogner. You can hear and understand every word.

The cast also has fun with the humorously and intentionally cliched dialogue that brings a tongue-in-cheek tone to the classic story from the 1930s Busby Berkeley film.

Kerby has put together a charming cast led by Sarah Cassidy, who has been seen primarily as an actress and singer, not as much as a dancer like Peggy Sawyer, a character who has just arrived from Allentown, Pennsylvania, with dreams of making it big on Broadway. …

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