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preview image42ND STREET
Music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin
Royal City Musical Theatre
Massey Theatre, New Westminster
April 12-28
$27-$37
604.280.4444 or www.ticketmaster.ca

Your mother was wrong. Sometimes it’s a really good idea to put all your eggs in one basket.

Since 1990, New Westminster’s Royal City Musical Theatre has been doing just that, devoting its resources to a single annual Broadway-style musical.  Drawing production staff and leads from the professional ranks, the company fleshes out each show with dozens of enthusiastic young singers and dancers, a full orchestra, and spectacular production values. The result is always terrific entertainment.

This year is no exception.  42nd Street is thoroughly delightful from beginning to end.

And what a beginning! The curtain rises on a stage full—and I mean full—of rat-a-tat tapping feet. Number after number features the exhilarating high-speed tap-dancing of the large chorus.  Choreographer Valerie Easton is the real star of this show.

A classic backstage musical, 42nd Street is a love-letter to the Busby Berkeley era and the Broadway of legend.  Adapted from the 1933 movie, it tells the story of hard-boiled director Julian Marsh (Peter Jorgensen), trying to launch his new musical Pretty Lady with difficult diva Dorothy Brock (Karin Konoval). Innocent chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Katie Murphy) steps in at the last minute to save the show and become a star herself.

42nd Street affectionately embraces all the clichés of the genre but never resorts to parody, despite the odd groaner. Giving Peggy “the Broadway facts of life,” chorus vet Annie (Tiffany Hambrook) warns her about leading man Billy (Patrick Lambier): “Watch out, honey.  He’s a tenor but he’s got bass ideas.”

The show revels in its lavish production numbers. Director Lloyd Nicholson’s ensemble shines in a zillion colourful period costumes from Chris Sinosich as the dancers do their thing against J.C. Olivier’s vivid backdrops. In “Beautiful Dames” the women change from white slips to red velvet dresses, dancing with the guys in top hats and tails before a pink staircase. In gold lamé dresses they tap “We’re in the Money” on top of large wooden gold coins in front of a gilded Bank of America.

Along with the latter, Harry Warren and Al Dubin’s memorable songs include “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” and the title tune, which ends the show with a bang.  The singing is never thrilling but everyone has their moments.  Patti Allan especially delights, vamping away as the company’s mother hen.

Principals Jorgensen, Murphy, Allan and Konoval all do strong work, and Hambrook is excellent in support. But the success of this show is much greater than the sum of its parts. See for yourself. Come and meet those dancin’ feet at 42nd Street.

Jerry Wasserman