For pure escapism, for a trip down memory lane with some truly great songs and eye-popping choreography, “42nd Street” ranks as the best show ever presented at a Rivertown theater. That includes the present artistic producers of the Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts and that of the previous artistic directors, the Rivertown Repertory Theatre.
Based on the opulent Busby Berkley musicals of the 1930s and the film "42nd Street" that starred a very young Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell, the focus is strictly on singing and dancing.
In this Gary Rucker-directed production there are as many as 27 different dancers and singers hoofing in synchronicity like as never before seen on a local New Orleans stage!
The very youthful ensemble is led by Kayla Herrington in the role of Peggy Sawyer, the wannabe Broadway star from Allentown who gets her lucky break on the Great White Way. Jason Kirkpatrick quite ably plays the role of Broadway producer-director Julian Marsh, originally performed on Broadway by the late, great Jerry Orbach.
Anyone who has taken a shine to the intricate dancing rendered on the early Hollywood soundstages will simply love the big dance sequences. There's even one with a huge overhead mirror that allows the audience to appreciate intricately choreographed work by Heidi Malnar and Danielle Scheib. Among the top numbers is the iconic Depression era pick me up "We're in the Money" in which dancers tap atop huge replicas of dimes.
Also in the role of fading Broadway star Dorothy Brock is Cathie Choppin, who holds her own in several songs. Among other female featured roles are co-artistic director Kelly Fouchi, Allee Peck and Micah Desonnier.
Among the male hoofers are Kyle Aucoin, Price Provenzano and Jesse Forcha and for comic relief there’s also the delightful Michael Sullivan.
This is strictly two hours of mindless entertainment that will make everyone, their mom and their grandmoms very happy. The songs by Al Warren and Harry Durbin are fantastic, including “You’re Getting to Be a Habit With Me,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” “Lullabye of Broadway” and the title song “42nd Street” still hold up very well.
Last, but not least, Linda Fried needs to be complimented for one of the most amazing jobs of costume designs done for a local production.
What a show! Seats are about as scarce as hen's teeth and several performances have been added including Thursday, September 26. This is one show that literally has legs!
"42nd Street" continues at Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts now through September 28. Call 504-461-9475 or click here.