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Peggy Sawyer, stars in her eyes and magic in her feet, moves to the Big Apple in the midst of the Great Depression looking to win the Broadway lottery. She isn’t even a seasoned chorus girl when she arrives but lotteries aren’t always won by the one who has been playing the longest. Much drama ensues along with a lot of tap dancing and singing. The lovely end to a fine story is that everyone lives happily ever after, the diva and the rising star, which is a feat for any theatre production especially in the 1930s.
All of the dancers and singers worked hard to entertain and seemed to really be enjoying themselves on stage making the show that much more fun to watch. They captured the gregarious spirits of Broadway hopefuls in the era of depression and uncertainty. The complete cast ensemble obviously put their hearts and souls into the production and it pays off for the audience.
Janet Gigliotti, a seasoned professional, played Dorothy the star of the play within a play. She has a gorgeous voice and a graceful stage presence. She was a treat to watch. Moreover, she wore the most stunning dress of all the costumes. You will know the one when she walks on stage.
In the supporting role of Maggie, Lucy McNulty was a blast to watch. She owned every song and line she delivered. One of my favourite parts was her singing Shadow Waltz to Dorothy during the awkward non-audition. I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.
I was quite curious how they were going to manage all the scene changes that happen in 42nd Street. I was impressed with their use of the entire stage. They had a large frame downstage, which had a screen (scrim) that moved up and down, sheer enough that with the right lighting they could have action both in front and behind the screen. They also made excellent use of upstage with a large set of doors that could open to offer another view and add depth to different scenes. They also used stage right and stage left for a variety of props and scenes including the dramatic dressing room scenes. The spinning staircase was probably one of my favourite pieces and made the stage look much larger and grander than it actually is.
Wow! Lots of costume changes, from the cute and colourful to the elegant and sparkling. The dancers did not get much of a break behind the scenes, as they must have spent much of their time changing in and out of costumes. Each time they came on stage their costumes delighted and they never seemed to tire. Their voices were strong and beautiful even as they danced.
The Best and the Worst
Being an outdoor theatre, sounds are everywhere not only from the artists on stage, but the mosquitos in your ears, and the planes flying overhead. The sound system quality is good so nothing drowns out the action on stage. However, a few times the mics of individual singers were turned on after the first line of their part started so I could see lips moving but no sound for a few seconds.
The live orchestra is always a treat but often invisible as they are under the stage. I was delighted when the actors included the orchestra by tapping on the stage meaningfully to them and by interacting directly with the conductor. It is rare to see this type of interaction with an invisible orchestra. It made the music come alive and the orchestra more central than they would have been if left as an anonymous and unacknowledged entity.
Advice for First Timers
Remember that this is an outdoor theatre so as the sun goes down and the bugs come out, the temperature can drop dramatically. Wear layers and shoes that do not sink into the grass as you walk. Be prepared for a bit of external noise such as water planes flying overhead but fear not, the sound quality is good so nothing will drown out the singing. Also, grab a chair cushion on your way in if you want a bit more padding as you sit through the show.
~reviewed by Melody Owen
Melody: Here we are at 42nd Street, TUTS Theatre. 42nd Street is about Peggy Sawyer, small town girl heading to the big city to hopefully get famous. We'll see if that happens. I'm excited to see this. There are lots of possibly scene changes, so it'll be interesting to see like how they handle that and I really love musicals so I'm really looking forward to this musical. I'll catch up with you afterwards, it'll be much darker, to see how it went.
TIMESTAMP 00:34 OUTDOOR THEATRE
Now this is an outdoor theatre, so it gets loud, not just people walking by, but it gets loud. Just noises, it's not an enclosed space and it can get cold, so let's see what it'll be like to be in the outdoor theatre, how cold it'll get, and I'll catch up with you later. Bye.
TIMESTAMP 00:55 COSTUMES
Melody: Here we are, we just finished watching 42nd Street at TUTS and I'm with Bee here and so Bee, what did you think of the costumes?
Bee: Well, I thought ... I loved the sequins. I can never get enough sparkle, glitter, dazzle. Really cute outfits. I would say more than dramatic and over the top. It was a lot of ... I would say a lot of the performers were under the age of 30.
Bee: They were cute as buttons and they ...
Melody: They looked cute in their costumes.
Bee: They were cute.
Melody: They looked so cute in their costumes, yes.
TIMESTAMP 01:34 SET AND STAGING
Melody: I liked the set. They had a layered set, so they had different ... The stage, they had like a frame around the stage and they could drop curtains, different curtains to kind of signify different things. Then they kind of had a middle stage.
Melody: And then they had a back door that opened as well, so when they needed to come in through that, they could do that as well, which I thought that was quite clever. I liked what they did with that.
TIMESTAMP 01:58 PLAY WITHIN A PLAY
Bee: I liked how they incorporated ... Well, if you have ever seen 42nd Street, this is my first time for a Theatre Under The Stars, and so I saw this before in London and they, in this production, incorporated more of the conductor for the orchestra.
Bee: They really did reference it, so it was kind of like a show within a show and we were discussing that and I really thought that they did really well in terms of utilizing a very small space and not having the grandeur of a London production, but this was very good.
TIMESTAMP 02:36 DISTRACTIONS
Bee: I think, if I may, because I've seen it before on a grander scale, my only take, in knowing that this is a smaller theatre company, I did find a couple of things somewhat distracting where the placement of some of the players were right up in the front and I found that was ... Where they ... There was some placement at the beginning of where they had ... The performers had their back to the audience.
Bee: We couldn't see what they were saying. You know. Doing a small bit in high school myself, I remember they need to see your face.
Bee: I found that and that lightbulb thing.
Bee: The lamp, the glowing ...
Melody: The bare lamp. The bare lightbulb, that had quite an effect.
Bee: Yeah, that left my eyes a little stunned but it did play into the scene.
TIMESTAMP 03:31 THE SHOW STOPPER
Melody: Oh, absolutely. What was your favourite part? Did you have a favourite part?
Bee: I think where they were in the money.
Melody: Yeah, that was a good. That was a fun time.
Bee: Where they all came out with like the gigantic disc and then they, of course, jumped on top of it, and then the rotating ...
Melody: Yes, the rotating stairs.
Melody: The rotating stairs were great and then the large coins.
Bee: The huge coins.
Melody: The huge coins.
Bee: That incorporated, like you said, everybody from the glamour to the dancing to the interaction of all involved, I think it was well oiled. You can tell that was like the showstopper.
TIMESTAMP 04:13 TALENT
Melody: Yes, absolutely. You know, it's hard to sing on stage and it is hard to dance on stage and these guys were singing and dancing at the same time. I know that is incredibly difficult to be moving around at that speed and still be holding your voice and singing really well, so that was one of my favourite parts. They did that well.
Bee: I think the performers had exceptional voices. They really ... When they had their moment, they took it and really, I think I embrace all of their ... I don't know, I felt they were very engaged with the audience.
TIMESTAMP 04:46 CLOSING REMARKS
Melody: Yeah, excellent. Well Bee, thank you much for coming out tonight. We had a great time, so you should come see it. I will say if you're coming out, wear some layers, it does get chilly at night and remember, it's an open door theatre, so it can get noisy. There's a plane that flew over head and you just got to roll with it.
Bee: There's bugs.
Melody: There are bugs, but it's worth it. It was a lot of fun, so yeah, come out and see 42nd Street.
Bee: Make sure you get a seat cushion if you want one for your bum.
Melody: Oh yeah, great advice. Get a seat cushion. They rent seat cushions. Alright. Thanks, Bee.
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