By: Diya Ramesh, Eastern Regional High School, Voorhees, NJ
ABSECON, N.J. — If given the chance to push a Broadway star over for a chance to be in a show, would you take it? Holy Spirit High School explores this idea and more in its production of 42nd Street.
42nd Street was written by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, with music by Harry Warren. It won the 1981 Tony awards for best musical and best choreography. The show centers around Peggy Sawyer, a young performer with big dreams. She goes to New York City from Allentown, Pennsylvania, in pursuit of her dreams, and her talent for singing and dancing causes director Julian Marsh to offer her a role in his show. The show, Pretty Lady, is starring Dorothy Brock, a Broadway legend. However, when Dorothy breaks her ankle, the cast turns to their new talent to save the show.
Only three members of the cast of 42nd Street had tap danced before the show, but the audience could not tell. The synchronicity of the ensemble’s feet and the exuberant energy on their faces carried throughout every number. The show was anchored by the constant and elegant dancing, particularly in numbers such as “We’re in the Money” and “Go Into Your Dance.”
Peggy Sawyer, played by Morgan Murphy, can be described in two words: star power. Her facial expressions alone while dancing conveyed the mood of every scene. The expressions combined with her rich vibrato allowed her to command the stage. Her chemistry with Julian Marsh, portrayed by Jack Hierholzer, left the audience on the edge of their seats. Julian Marsh’s character voice perfectly emulated the time period of the show, and his beautiful tone elevated “42nd Street Finale.”
The choreographer of the show within the show, Andy Lee, played by Angel Elefante, tapped beautifully while accurately expressing the energy of a frantic stagehand. Dorthy Brock’s vocals (Liza Martino) captured the character of a Broadway diva. Billy Lawlor, played by Sawyer Lilley, walked into every scene with swagger. His dancing, in combination with his jokes about tenors, made the show incredibly lively.
The set was minimalistic throughout the show, but it did help set up the 1930s Broadway atmosphere. The train station set in “Lullaby of Broadway” and the honeymoon express set in “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” were perfect for their respective scenes.
Holy Spirit High School’s production of 42nd Street had audience members tapping their feet, singing along to the catchy tunes, and rooting for the small town girl to succeed.
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