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Broadway Series South Preview: 42nd Street Is the Ultimate Backstage Musical

March 23, 2004 - Raleigh, NC:


Broadway Series South will bring the First National Tour of 42nd Street, the ultimate and, some say, definitive backstage musical, to Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, for eight performances, March 23-28. Triangle theatergoers will enjoy the critically acclaimed traveling version of the show's recent Broadway revival, which won the 2001 Tony Award® for Best Musical Revival, the 2001 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical Revival, and the 2001 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Musical Revival.

Produced by Dodger Theatricals, directed by Mark Bramble, and choreographed by Randy Skinner, the First National Tour of 42nd Street will star Daren Kelly as premier Broadway director Julian Marsh and Marcy McGuigan as aging Broadway diva Dorothy Brock, and introduce Shannon O'Bryan as novice chorine Peggy Sawyer, a naïve and fresh-faced small-town girl from Allentown, Pa., who flubs her audition but nevertheless gets her Big Chance to star in a new musical bound for Broadway. The show also stars Michael Fitzpatrick as Bert Barry, Tina Johnson as Maggie Jones, and Robert Spring as Billy Lawlor.

Originally produced on Broadway by David Merrick and directed and choreographed by Gower Champion, the hit musical 42nd Street made its Broadway debut at the Winter Garden Theatre on August 25, 1980, later transferred to two other theaters, and closed on Jan. 8, 1989. The show ran for 3,486 performances, making it the second-longest-running Broadway musical ever (after A Chorus Line).

The original production of 42nd Street, subtitled "The Song and Dance Fable of Broadway," starred Jerry Orbach as Julian Marsh, Tammy Grimes as Dorothy Brock, and Wanda Richert as Peggy Sawyer. The Broadway premiere earned eight Tony nominations, and won the Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Choreography.

The 1980-89 Broadway hit was broadly inspired by the flamboyant motion-picture musicals of the 1930s, and specifically based on the 1933 Academy Award® nominee for Best Picture directed by Lloyd Bacon and starring Warner Baxter as Julian Marsh, Bebe Daniels as Dorothy Brock, and Ruby Keeler as Peggy Sawyer. (42nd Street the movie and the musical is set in 1933 backstage at the 42nd Street Theatre in New York and The Arch Street Theatre in Philadelphia, where preparations for a new Broadway musical named Pretty Lady, staged by "King of Broadway" Julian Marsh and originally slated to star Dorothy Brock, are under way.)

This bodacious Broadway musical features music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, and a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble based on the novel by Bradford Ropes. Some of its hit songs are "We're in the Money," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "Lullaby of Broadway," "I Only Have Eyes for You," and the spectacular title tune, which will be danced down a flight of steps that will light up, step by step.

The prize-winning Broadway revival of 42nd Street opened May 2, 2001 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, where its is still running and just completed its 1,200th performance. Produced by Dodger Theatricals, Joop Van Den Ende, and Stage Holding, and directed by Mark Bramble, with musical staging and new choreography by Randy Skinner, the revival starred former PlayMakers Repertory Company member Michael Cumpsty as Julian Marsh, Christine Ebersole as Dorothy Brock, and Kate Levering as Peggy Sawyer.

Both the Broadway revival and the First National Tour, which commenced on Aug. 4, 2002 at the Kansas City Theatre Under the Stars, feature musical direction by Todd Ellison, scenic design by Douglas W. Schmidt, costume design by Roger Kirk, lighting design by Paul Gallo, hair and wig design by David H. Lawrence, and sound design by Peter Fitzgerald.

Critical acclaim for the 2001 Broadway revival of 42nd Street included a rave by Broadway's bete noir, New York Magazine critic John Simon, who called the show "an absolute knockout!" "42nd Street is back," he added, "and all is right with the world!"

New York Post reviewer Clive Barnes claimed, "This new 42nd Street flies like a magic bird from the overture on. It's a whiz of a show that could send the Venus de Milo out tapping her toes and even snapping her fingers. Pure exhilaration."

Newsday writer Linda Winer said the show was full of "virtually nonstop pleasures! This 42nd Street is terrific," she added, calling the show "a blissful 'Lullaby of Broadway' that respects its audiences and has a kick doing it. An expertly delirious extravaganza, a rhapsody of happy feet."

And Jeffrey Lyons of WNBC-TV said 42nd Street is "Broadway razzle-dazzle at its best." Lyons adds, "You'd never know there'd been an earlier version, so thrilling, so energetic is this production. The evening cascades from one boundlessly energetic number to another, topped only by the most sensational finale you'd ever want to see! Toe-tapping, foot-stomping sensational. If you can't get tickets for The Producers, 42nd Street is the musical to see."

Broadway Series South presents 42nd Street Tuesday-Friday, March 23-26, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 27, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 28, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the BTI Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $16-$66. BTI Box Office: 919/831-6060. Group Rates: 919/231-4575, fax 919/212-0238, e-mail tickets@priorityseating.net, or visit http://www.priorityseating.net/. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/2003-2004/broadway.html#42nd. Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0024034/. Internet Broadway Database: http://www.ibdb.com/show.asp?ID=1027. 42nd Street: http://www.42ndstreetthemusical.com/ [inactive 8/04]. 2001 Revival: http://www.42ndstreetbroadway.com/. First National Tour: http://www.42ndstreetbroadway.com/tour/index.html