It’s a piece of old Broadway nostalgia, it’s a bit of Chorus Line, it’s a touch of Flashdance, and a dash of Cinderella .
The University of Miami’s newest show, 42nd Street, opened Friday night to the sound of 32 sets of tap shoes dancing in unison. That alone was enough to leave the audience (a full house) awestruck. The playbill cover had promised, “a toe tapping musical extravaganza.” It didn’t lie.
42nd Street is an historical view of Broadway, circa 1933, but no one comes to this play for a history lesson. They come for the music, the dancing, the comedy and the story of the unknown girl who makes it big.
Peggy Sawyer is the unknown dancer from Allentown, Pa., who dreams of the lights on Broadway. After missing an audition, she is picked off the street to fill out the chorus line. Peggy is ecstatic, but fate isn’t done with her yet.
Jessica Greeley shines as Peggy, and the audience just fell in love with the innocent country girl who stumbles through rehearsals and trips all the way to stardom.
But naive Peggy is no match for Dorothy Brock, the reigning Broadway star. Although the producers think Dorothy is past her prime and not right for the lead, they are forced to cast her because of her financial connections. Dorothy’s sophistication and cutting comments are a nice contrast to Peggy’s sweetness.
Nicole DeCario, who plays Dorothy, is perfect in the role. She shows just enough street smarts to be arrogant, but not enough to be villainous. The audience cheers for Peggy over Dorothy, but Dorothy shows true New York-style in the end.
Julian Marsh, the show’s producer, needs to have his play, Pretty Lady, score big. This is 1933, the Depression years, and Julian was hit hard by the collapse of Wall Street. His reputation as “the King of Broadway” is also on the line, so Julian is juggling lots of things.
Benjamin Gamble amazes the audience with his very real portrayal of Julian. His voice, his posture, and his mannerisms bring Julian to life. At times the audience feels like a member of the cast or crew – all focused on the “King of Broadway.”
The choreography was everything to this play, and the true star was the choreographer, Clay James.
No musical can be a musical without music, and 42nd Street has great music. The orchestra is the heart of the show, keeping it beating throughout both acts. Old favorites such as I Only Have Eyes For You, Lullaby Of Broadway, and the show-stopping 42nd Street are rejuvenated through the young voices of the UM cast.
42 Street’s last shows will be April 16-21 at 2 and 8 p.m. For more information, call (305) 284-3355.
Tickets are $18 for Friday and Saturday nights and $16 for weeknights, Sunday evening, and matinees.