Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
Also see Bill's review of The God of Isaac
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.
Directed and Choreographed by Rick Kerby