Come and meet—those dancing feet—on the avenue they’re bringing you to--- 23 E. Galena Boulevard in Aurora, for a tune filled, glittering, splashy musical now on stage at the Paramount Theatre. It’s energetic, fast paced, and exhilarating, with excellent production values, and leaves you wondering how the human body can move hands and feet together so fast, and wondering even more how so many bodies can do it in perfect unison.
From the moment your hear the opening bars of the overture with “We’re in the Money,” played by the superb orchestra, under Doug Peck’s direction, then see the curtain slowly rise on a stage full of time-stepping feet tapping away with sharp precision and high energy, you know you’re in for a real treat, an old fashioned Broadway musical. To top it off, there are more wonderful Harry Warren and Al Dubin songs, including “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “Dames,” “Lullaby a Broadway,” and “Shuffle Off To Buffalo”, and several production numbers.
Reminiscent of Eleanor Powell’s star turn in the MGM movie, “Broadway Melody of 1936”, 42nd Street is the quintessential backstage story: young, innocent from small town hopes to hit it big on the great white way. This time it’s talented Peggy Sawyer (perky Laura Savage, a terrific triple-threat in her own right tap dancing up a storm), all wide-eyed and fresh scrubbed from small Allentown, Pa., suitcase in hand and forty cents in her pocket, hoping to land a part in the chorus of a Broadway show.
The original book, written by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, tells the story of tough producer Julian Marsh (played with gusto and great voice by Larry Adams) rehearsing his new play, “Pretty Lady”, and must use slightly past-her-prime Dorothy Brock (Catherine Lord, in a lovely turn with “About a Quarter To Nine” and a fun, campy “Shadow Waltz”) as his leading lady because her sugar daddy is financing the show.
Although Sawyer has landed a part in the chorus through good looking song and dance man Billy Lawlor’s (Tyler Hanes, another triple-threat) introduction to Marsh, he fires her. When his leading lady breaks her ankle, however, Marsh asks her to come back and save the show, imploring her to “…think of all those kids you’ll be throwing out of work, think of the songs that will wither and die, the costumes and scenery never to be seen, think of Musical Comedy—the most glorious words in the English language!”, which leads into the short but wonderful production number “Lullaby of Broadway,” and then telling her on opening night, “Remember, you’re going out a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”
The outstanding team of director Rachel Rockwell and choreographer Tammy Mader have pulled out all stops with this show. The glittering set, by Kevin Depinet, has footlights and neon marquees a-plenty, and the projection design by Anna Henson and Liviu Pasare is a pure delight, with an ingenious twist on the Busby Berkeley kaleidoscopic, spinning look of a New York skyline turned forward. Berkeley choreographed the original film, and Theresa Ham’s vintage looking costumes are eye-popping dazzling and do not take a back seat to “A Chorus Line’s” show-stopping production number “One”.
This is sheer fun entertainment with dazzling displays of footwork and coordination, sparkling costumes and sets, and some of the most singable music from the 1930’s. You’ll leave the theatre singing and time-stepping your way up the aisle. This “naughty, gawdy, bawdy” 42nd Street is top-notch and a must see show.
If you have any trepidation about hoofing it out to Aurora, put your worries to rest; it’s about 45 minutes from downtown Chicago, about 55 minutes from the Northern suburbs, only a few minutes longer than the traffic nightmare of driving the Edens and the Kennedy and is well worth your time. You won’t be disappointed by the Paramount’s consistently superior and lavish productions.
The show runs through February 9, 2014
Show times are Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Tickets are $36.90 to $49.90
Visit theParamount Theatre website for more information.
Photos: Liz Lauren