Encore Michigan

Encore Musical Theatre transports audiences to ’42nd Street’

Uncategorized June 04, 2023

DEXTER, MI–42nd Street is a captivating Broadway musical that has enthralled audiences for decades. With a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, and music by Harry Warren, this production from Encore Musical Theatre here remains a timeless tribute to the glitz and glamour of the golden age of American theater.

Set in the 1930s during the Great Depression, 42nd Street tells the story of Peggy Sawyer (Allison Bell), a talented young dancer from Allentown, PA a small who dreams of making it big in New York City. Through a series of fortunate events, Peggy finds herself thrust into the spotlight as the lead in a new Broadway show, “Pretty Lady.” As the cast and crew work tirelessly to stage a dazzling production, the musical explores the trials, triumphs, and relationships that emerge behind the scenes.

One of the strengths of 42nd Street lies in its exhilarating choreography (led here by Director/Choreographer Scott Thompson) and unforgettable musical numbers. Harry Warren’s music effortlessly captures the spirit of the era, with tunes like “Lullaby of Broadway,” “We’re in the Money,” and, of course, “42nd Street” becoming instant classics. The title song is a get-on-your-feet showstopper. The lyrics, combined with Warren’s melodic compositions, transport the audience to a bygone era filled with infectious energy and toe-tapping rhythms.

David Moan plays Julian Marsh, the “Pretty Lady” director/producer. Moan has a knack for perfectly inhabiting characters of another era, and his Marsh is funny and captivating. Sarah B. Stevens pays Dorothy Brock, the star diva hired to play the lead in the show before fate has other plans for her. Stevens, like Moan, seems to be able to present herself in any period based on all the terrific turns she has taken at The Encore. Her vocals are pitch perfect too. Ms. Bell carries the Peggy role with great confidence and her vocals and dancing are top-notch.

Supporting characters and familiar Encore actors: Slicker Bert Barry (Sebastian Gerstner), Wealthy show investor/rancher Abner Dillon (Keith Kalinowski), and Maggie Jones (Gayle E. Martin) who is kind if a leader of the ensemble all nail their roles. There are no weak links in the whole production.

Producer Dan Cooney and Director Thompson invested in a wonderful ensemble of actor/dancers, which lifts the great work of the principals and the whole production to must-see status this summer. In his stage talk before the show, Cooney said it is the most elaborate and expensive production the theatre has ever produced, with an overall price tag of $200,000. That money was very well spent as the production is as good as you will see this side of Broadway. The Encore has elevated its status in the whole Great Lakes region as one of the top theaters, especially for musicals.

The music is ably led by Music  Director R. Mackenzie Lewis, who leads an eight-piece orchestra. There is a dizzying number of costume changes, with the designs created by Marillee Dechart and Sharon Larkey Urick. The set, by Sarah Tanner, is rather simple for such a lavish production, but it is designed to support a series of projections on the back of the stage and a scrim that gets a lot of use as the place shifts between the theater, the streets of New York, Broadway and Philadelphia where Pretty Lady is getting its out-of-town tryout. Dave Early designed the projection, which work just as well as if a complicated multi-piece set had been built. Chris Goosman designed the sound.

The book, crafted by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, masterfully weaves together a tale that balances the hardships of the era with the dreams and aspirations of its characters. It cleverly explores the dynamics within the theater world, shedding light on the intense pressure, fierce competition, and camaraderie that define show business.

Overall, 42nd Street is a joyous celebration of showmanship, a spectacle that will transport you to the heyday of Broadway. With unforgettable music by Harry Warren and dynamic choreography, this musical will leave you tapping your feet long after the curtain falls.

Don’t miss the chance to experience the magic of 42nd Street and witness the enchantment of Broadway’s golden era come alive on the Encore Musical Theatre stage. 42nd Street runs through June 25. You can find show and ticket info, and buy tickets online, at their website.