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42nd Street | The Muny

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theat_42nd-st_sm.jpgWhen 42nd Street was mounted in 1980, only one previous movie musical had ever been brought to the Great White Way.

theat_42nd-st.jpg 

The 2009 summer season at the Muny kicks off—literally—with 42nd Street, a dancing spectacle worth seeing. The musical pays homage to the movie musicals of the 1930s.

In this era of movies turned into musicals turned into movies again (think The Producers), it's somewhat surprising to realize that when 42nd Street was mounted in 1980, only one previous movie musical (Gigi) had ever been brought to the Great White Way. 42nd Street won Tonys in its original run and its 2001 revival, and the Muny production deserves kudos as well.

42nd Street is the story of Peggy Sawyer, an ingénue who arrives on Broadway and soon becomes a star. Sawyer, played by Shannon M. O'Bryan, is such a natural talent that when the star of an about-to-open Broadway show (Pretty Lady) breaks her ankle, director Julian Marsh (played by Robert Cuccioli) follows her to the train station to beg her not to go back to Allentown but instead, in perhaps the show's musical highlight, to listen to the "Lullaby of Broadway."

"Lullaby of Broadway" is a rare number in the show that exists to further the story or deepen the characterizations. Most musical numbers are scenes from Pretty Lady that showcase the cast's hoofing abilities.

One standout in the strong cast is Patti Mariano who plays Maggie Jones, one of the writers. Jones, an older actress who has been performing regionally and nationally since she was a child, is quick with her one-liners and provides some important comic relief in the show.

While Act I is a little long, Act II is a delightful follow-up—shame on all those Muny-goers who left early out of fear of rain.

Oh, and I have to mention... I attended the musical with my 83-year-old Great Aunt Betty, and she said the costumes were her favorite part. | David Benkof

42nd Street runs at the Muny May 15-21, with performances nightly at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $9-66 and are available at the Muny Box Office or via Metrotix. Next up is Annie, which runs June 22-30; a full schedule is available on the Muny's website.

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