Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

42nd Street
Manatee Players
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of The God of Isaac


Michelle Anaya, Sarah Cassidy and Brian Chunn
Photo Courtesy of Manatee Players
Manatee Players always gets their theater season started with an August Show, jumping ahead of everyone else in the region. This year they open with 42nd Street based on the 1930s Warner Brothers Movie that starred Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rodgers. It is a typical backstage story, the newcomer steps into the spotlight to save the show and becomes a star. For Broadway, the show became director Gower Champion's swan song, as he died on opening night. 42nd Street is loaded down with some of the greatest movie songs of all times including "Shuffle off to Buffalo," "Young and Healthy" and the title tune, all the work of Harry Warren, music and Al Dubin lyrics. With all the great songs, it's the less stellar "There's a Sunny Side to Every Situation" that has lodged itself into my brain and won't go away. The show was and must be a tap dancing tour de force in order to land, and under Manatee Players' Artistic Director Rick Kerby it does indeed. Dancing is usually the weakest link in Community Theater Productions, but Kerby gets his cast to deliver complex routines with a plethora of energy and quite a bit of snap.

Alan Tulin is Julian Marsh, director of the musical within a musical, Pretty Lady. He is all bluster with just a hint of the father figure he sort of is to the kids in the cast. It is sort of a thankless role, the only singing he gets to do is to lead off "Lullaby of Broadway" before the cast raises the rafters on the theater with this production number. Sarah Cassidy gives a real star turn as Peggy Sawyer the little girl who saves the show. She has proven herself to be a fine singer in many past productions, singing both Soprano and Broadway Belt; here she dances far better than I ever realized she could, the woman is a triple threat. Michelle Anaya is too young for the faded star Dorothy Brock but she gives it a valiant effort, singing strongly throughout. Brian Chunn has proven himself in many staring roles in the past, but as juvenile Billy Lawlor he has the opposite problem from Ms. Anaya. He might easily have been cast as Julian Marsh, he simply is too much leading man and way too little juvenile. He has a great voice but the upper reaches do not have the lightness required of a juvenile lead and his dancing is not his strong point. With several of the leading roles rather thankless, musically, the supporting parts are full of wonderful opportunities and here is where Rick Kerby's cast is at its best. Adding strength to this production, Kyle Ann Lacertosa as Maggie Jones, Mike Nolan as Bert Barry, Angelo Jasa as Andy Lee (this young man is a really fine dancer!), and Christina Capehart as Anytime Annie all shine in their various numbers. Joseph Rebella, lately seen on Starlite Players' stage continues his growth as a performer with some featured tap dancing, especially as he jumps from platform to platform in the "We're in the Money" number.

Music Director Michael Newton Brown keeps tempos lively, although there was some rough playing from his band the night I attended. Scenic Design by Michael Newton Brown is very effective, one very phallic sign notwithstanding. The lighting design by Joseph P. Oshry is highly theatrical, perfectly appropriate for a story about Show Business backstage. Costumes by Becky Evans look great with such a limited budget. Everything adds up to what I am sure will be one of the Community Theater highlights of the season.

Manatee Players presents 42nd Street at Manatee Center for the Performing Arts through August 28, 2016, at 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton; 941-748-0111, manateeplayers.com.

Cast:
Peggy Sawyer: Sarah Cassidy
Julian Marsh: Alan Tulin
Billy Lawlor: Brian Chunn
Dorothy Brock: Michelle Anaya
Maggie Jones: Kyle Ann Lacertosa
Bert Barry: Mike Nolan
Pat Denning: John Andruzzi
Mac: Phil Croome
Abner Dillon: Alex Topp
Andy Lee: Angelo Jasa
Anytime Annie: Christina Capehart
Phyllis Dale: Eliza Lipton
Lorraine Flemming: Audrey Lipton
Diane Lormer: Zoe Zimmermann
Ethel: Ashley Cronkhite
Gladys: Skylar Homan
Winnie: Diana Dizon
Featured Dancer/Onstage Dance Captain: Joseph Rebella
Oscar: Jack Kaiser
Waiters: Dylan Glover, Joseph Rebella
Thugs: AJ Cali, Bryan Stark
Flower Hoop Dancers: Emily Branton, Diana Dizon, Skylar Homan, Zoe Zimmerman
Ensemble/Dancers: Emily Branton, AJ Cali, Christina Capehart, Ashley Cronkhite, Nicole Cunningham, diana Dizon, Dylan Glover, Skylar Homan, Angelo Jasa, Jack Kaiser, Amanda Lade, Audrey Lipton, Eliza Lipton, Joseph Rebella, Joshua Roberson, James Sheppard V, Bryan Stark, Zoe Zimmermann
Princess Shi Shi: Izzy

Orchestra:
Conductor/Keyboard—Rick Bogner
Second Keyboard—Christine Allen-Bruno
Reeds—Teri booth
Trumpet—Victor Mongillo
Percussion—John Januszewski

Directed and Choreographed by Rick Kerby
Musical Direction by Rick Bogner
Scenic Design by Michael Newton-Brown,br>Lighting Design by Joseph P. Oshry
Costumes Designed by Becky Evans
Production Stage Manager—Kristin Ribble


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