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42nd Street

Opening Shots

42nd Street at the Kavinoky Theatre

Top: Lovely Debbie Pappas, who stars as Broadway diva Dorothy Bock, with her daughter, Laura Mikolajczyk, who plays one of the divettes in the ensemble, and dancer choreographer Kelly Cammarata. Middle: Angel Diaz with John Fredo, who stars as Julian Marsh, and Patrick O’Herron, who plays Billy Lawlor. Bottom: The Jakiel family: mother Mary MacMahon, with daughter Kelly Jakiel, who plays Peggy Sawyer, and hubby Stephen Jakiel, who plays Kiddy Car tycoon Abner Dillon.

The Kavinoky Theatre clearly decided to begin a great big season with one huge gesture. Unlike Oliver!, which MusicalFare transplanted to the Great Depression, this really is a Depression-era musical, written for Hollywood in 1933. The place is Broadway, where famed impresario Julian Marsh is putting on a show that promises to be a big hit, providing much-needed employment to all involved. The hitch? Has-been actress, Dorothy Brock, is locked in to headline, because her wealthy boyfriend du jour is putting up the dough. Countless costume changes later, Brock is out on her broken ankle, and erstwhile chorine Peggy Sawyer has to decide whether to go back home to Allentown or to become a big-time Broadway star.

I’ll let the reader guess her decision.

Under the direction of Norm Sham, with spritely choreography by Kelly Cammarata, musical direction by Mark Vona, a resplendent set by David King, costumes aplenty by Bret Runyon, sound by Tom Makar and fights choreographed by Steve Vaughan, 42nd Street is a ball!

The show boasts a litany of great songs, from the title number to “Shadow Waltz,” “You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me,” “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and the anthem to the marriage capital of the world, “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”

Debbie Pappas is a standout as Dorothy Brock, the regal diva with a libido that runs overtime. We believe she’s the great but ill-tempered star who makes it look easy.

Kelly Jakiel is marvelously lovable as plucky Peggy Sawyer, singing and dancing beautifully and never betraying for an instant that it’s all pure hokum.

John Fredo is dashing as domineering Julian Marsh, who needs a hit to recover from his bad investments: “There’s a horse’s ass for every light on Broadway!” And I especially enjoyed the comic timing of Charmagne Chi as “Anytime Annie,” who “only said no once. And then she didn’t hear the question!”

While the production has the air of something pulled out for a stock company, under the circumstances the faint aroma of mothballs seems somehow appropriate and in no way diminishes the joy this show provides. Moreover, 42nd Street sets the stage for the fresh and exciting Kavinoky season ahead, in which we will see Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, A. R. Gurney’s Black Tie, and the return of Noel Coward’s perennial favorite, Blithe Spirit.