Chris Bennion, Broadway Across America
Caitlin Ehlinger as Peggy Sawyer from Allentown, Pa., center, dances with the chorus in "42nd Street." The musical was at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City from Sept. 22-27.

"42ND STREET" national tour, Capitol Theatre, 50 W. 200 South; running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (one intermission)

SALT LAKE CITY — For sheer dazzle and shimmer, the Broadway Across America tour show of "42nd Street" came in a winner.

The show is fun, dynamic and full of toe-tapping energy. It's breathtakingly remarkable.

In fact, the tap-dancing is so well done that the audience broke out in spontaneous applause again and again, then gave the dancing two standing ovations at the end.

And it all appears effortless, even on a stack of stairs or when the cast members are carrying around supersize dimes.

Mark Bramble, director, has built upon Gower Champion's original direction and dances and come up with all kinds of new ways to tell an old story: a story of a naive but uber-talented girl who comes to New York to make it big. When a show's veteran star, Dorothy Brock, played by Kaitlin Lawrence, breaks an ankle, it's the new girl's chance.

The shadowboxing number is novel and comic as stage director Julian Marsh (played wonderfully by Matthew J. Taylor) tries to work around Dorothy's inability to dance. It's a combination magic act and comedy piece.

"Shuffle Off to Buffalo" is hilarious as the shiny, silver train-car curtains open and close on the "matrimony to alimony" journey to a honeymoon in Niagara Falls.

Taylor is outstanding playing a somewhat jaded Julian, who is eager to get his hit in front of an audience and somewhat in love with his newfound star, Peggy Sawyer from Allentown, played by Caitlin Ehlinger.

Taylor has just the right amount of bluster and campiness as he tries to deal with impending financial disaster. He takes a rather ordinary character and makes him amusing, powerful and likable even when he piles the pressure on Sawyer.

Ehlinger brings Sawyer to life, coming in late to the audition because she couldn't make herself walk through the stage door and then charming everyone she meets while bumping through the choreography the chorus already knows.

Britte Steele as Maggie Jones is warm, gutsy and friendly and keeps the show moving along.

Blake Stadnik plays the love-struck Billy Lawlor nicely with humor and sincerity without being boring. His stilted walk off the stage toward the end is great.

Lawrence is the perfect show diva with no use for anyone except her new lover, Pat Denning, played by DJ Canaday.

There's really not a slacker in the bunch, and the vocals are strong.

Here is a show that's more of a spectacle than a story. The predictable storyline is almost beside the point as the dancers kick high, the stars sing and the costumes shine.

There's plenty of eye candy and flat-out humor, not to mention the songs that take on new life here. Well-known favorites such as "We're in the Money," "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "42nd Street" are flawlessly performed, and lesser-knowns such as "About a Quarter to Nine" earn a place among them.

Some of the bits are so clever, especially the dancing flower petals and the soft-shoe numbers. The costuming is outstanding, from the long, high-slit gowns with "My Fair Lady" hats to the strapless red velvet gown and gloves for Dorothy.

The ensemble dancers move as one in the opening set. They keep up an exhausting pace without a miss.

The set is fluid with painted backdrops and lighted signs and a train station ramp that ultimately holds the whole cast.

"42nd Street" launched its national tour from Salt Lake and was only in town for a few days.

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.

Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com