You got to think hoofer for this one, in all of its glory. The tap dancers pretty much steal this show. There is a subtle beauty of hearing a full chorus not singing but tap dancing, something that harken back to a time when there was no cell phones or social media. It pretty much was all word of mouth in 1933 when the film, not the musical was first released, and if you liked the movie then you would tell everyone you knew to skip a couple of meals and save their pennies to see some of the best dancing in town on film.
42nd Street is an American musical originally directed by an ailing Gower Champion and orchestrated by Philip J. Lang. The show was produced in London in 1984 (winning the Olivier Award for Best Musical) It’s first Broadway debut was in 1980. The Broadway revival opened in 2001 for 1,524 performances, and it won the Tony Award for Best Revival, Best Musical, and Best Choreography for Gower Champion’s dances. Directed by co-author Mark Bramble and choreographed by Randy Skinner, and produced by David Merrick. Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the subsequent 1933 Hollywood film adaptation, the show focuses on the efforts of famed dictatorial Great White Way director Julian Marsh to mount a successful stage production of a musical extravaganza at the height of the Great Depression.
It has some of the greatest songs ever written, including “We’re In The Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off To Buffalo,” “Dames,” “I Only Have Eyes For You” and of course “42nd Street”, with the music by Harry Warren, and lyrics by Al Dubin.
With this truly great cast including: Andy Lee-Lamont Brown, Maggie Jones – Britte Stelle, Bert Barry -Steven Bidwell, Mac – Carlos Morales, Phyllis – Mallory Nolting, Lorraine – Vanessa Mitchell, Diane – Sarah Fagan, Annie – Natalia Lepore Hagan, Billy Lawlor – Blake Stadnik, Peggy Sawyer – Caitlin Ehlinger, Oscar – Rob Ouellette, Julian Marsh – Matthew J. Taylor, Dorothy Brock – Kaitlin Lawrence, Abner Dillon – Mark Fishback, Pat Denning – DJ Canaday, Thugs – Carlos Morales, Matthew Alexander, Doctor-Carlos Morales. The Ensemble were just amazing, just incredible dancing.
What a fitting venue to this period piece show. The Pantages has some amazing history itself. The Pantages has become one of the greatest landmarks of Hollywood, signifying both the glorious past and adventuresome future of the world’s entertainment capital. The Pantages was primarily a movie house for several decades. In 1949 Howard Hughes, acquired the theatre through RKO, changing its name to the RKO Pantages and setting up offices there. Howard Hughes upstairs apartment and screening room are today theatre offices, and Hughes’ ghost is among several rumored to frequent the building once the audience leaves. The Oscars were also broadcast from this theater back in 1953; its hosts included such notables as Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis. Bought by Pacific Theatres in 1967 leading to a refurbishment and reopening of the theatre sections closed down during the Hughes reign. The Nederlander Organization became a partner with Pacific Theaters in 1977, and re-opened it as a Theater with its first show “Bubbling Brown Sugar” in February 1977. When The Nederlander Organization heard that the Walt Disney Company was seeking a home for its Los Angeles production of “The Lion King”, chairman James M. Nederlander locked up a Pantages booking by agreeing to a substantial renovation. He wanted to get the theatre looking more like it did in 1930. The theatre was restored to its original luster in time for the highly anticipated L.A. Premiere of Disney’s THE LION KING. After several touch-ups over the years, the Hollywood Boulevard showplace was renovated at the turn of the 21st century to recapture its 1930 look and luxury. When the theatre reopened in September 2000, some 300 people had repainted nearly every inch of the theatre, restored its outer lobby and missing chandeliers, refurbished its walls and prepared it for the new century. This year they are celebrating 85 years of Hollywood History.
The sets of 42nd Street are very minimal, but a few of the sets use the full height of the stage, so the dancers can show off their chorus line type kicks while walking down a steep flight of stairs. They also had some hand painted curtains with ladies of that period, which lends itself to the over all glamour of this era. The costumes also bring back the feeling of a lost art, in musicals as well as film. A time when the only films you watched were Broadway type musicals with huge Busby Berkeley dance numbers. 42nd Street manages to keep you totally entertained while telling the story of what many consider a classic that is still culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
It is a 2 hour and 20 minute romp including intermission into a time long gone. Lively as it gets, you will be amazed at the choreography with its full-blown tap dancing numbers. You just have to go and meet those dancing feet!! You can satisfy all of your melodic cravings by seeing 42nd Street, playing at The Pantages May 31st through June 19th, 2016. When you leave the theater you will look down and see your feet tapping away! It’s contagious, so put on you’re dancing shoes and watch a piece of history that you will grow to forever love!
6233 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
*note some content is taken from 42nd Street website.