"42nd Street," Pioneer Theatre Company, through May 8, Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre (801-581-6961); running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes (one intermission)
Sometimes, I like to judge a musical based on the number of times I get chills during the performance.
If that were any indication at "42nd Street" on Friday night, then Pioneer Theatre Company has something to dance about.
In a flashy sweep of gorgeous costumes, lavish dance numbers and a solid cast, PTC offers one set of chills after another.
When the orchestra, under the direction of Michael Rice, kicks in to the overture for "42nd Street," hands and toes immediately begin tapping in the audience — and it's easy to understand why, with some of the more recognizable songs in the musical theater canon — "We're in the Money," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and "The Lullaby of Broadway."
The musical is based on the novel and subsequent 1933 film adaptation. The play originally opened on Broadway in 1980 and won the Tony for Best Musical that year. It earned the Tony for Best Revival in 2001.
"42nd Street" is the classic tale of a small-town gal in the big city, getting her big break and becoming a big star.
Perhaps the real star of the PTC production is the spirited dance numbers, choreographed by Broadway veteran Patti D'Beck, executed with help from Aaron Lloyd Pomeroy, assistant/dance captain. The choreography is fun and high-energy, and the cast of "beautiful dames" is delightful — performing time steps, drawbacks and shuffles in perfect precision.
K.L. Alberts' costumes are equally stunning — from 1930s day-clothes to a whole slew of musical theater show-stoppers and gorgeous gowns.
The large PTC cast, under the direction of Charles Morey, turns in some fine performances, as well. Beth Glover's aging diva, Dorothy Brock, is perfectly engaging and fiery. And in the supporting role of songwriter Maggie Jones is local actress Mary Fanning Driggs, who is brassy and sassy, belting out the songs with ease. Scott Barnhardt and Erin Denman also turn in outstanding featured performances.
Lea Kohl as Peggy Sawyer, the rising star, is very likable and nails all the intricate tap dancing. Dennis Parlato is great as the tough-nosed, order-barking director, although at times he's difficult to understand. And BYU graduate Jeffrey Pew's soaring tenor notes are a treat.
As much as the characters in the musical are desperate to put on a show, it's clear the actors on the PTC stage love the craft just as much. Their energy is infectious, and the audience left with smiles, humming a tune or two.
And I'd be lying if I said I didn't try my hand at a time step in the parking lot.
Sensitivity rating: Mild swearing.
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