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'42nd Street' at Beef & Boards

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TOP: Peggy Sawyer (Kaylee Verble), center, makes her debut in “Pretty Girl” in 42nd Street at Beef & Boards Dinner Theatre. RIGHT: Billy Lawlor (Dan Bob Higgins) dances with Peggy Sawyer (Kaylee Verble) as they sing “Young and Healthy.” BOTTOM: Andy Lee (Peter Scharbrough), center, leads the chorus in a dance audition. Photos provided
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BOTTOM: Andy Lee (Peter Scharbrough), center, leads the chorus in a dance audition.
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LEFT: Billy Lawlor (Dan Bob Higgins) dances with Peggy Sawyer (Kaylee Verble) as they sing “Young and Healthy.”

Play Review by John J. Guglielmi

If you had taken tap dance lessons when you were younger, and ever aspired to hit the boards on Broadway, then “42nd Street” is your kind of musical.

Set during the Depression in 1933, stage director Julian Marsh (Mark Epperson) plans a new musical extravaganza hoping to recoup money he lost in the stock market crash. This Tony Award winning musical plays at Beef and Boards through May 19.

Auditions are set and the chorus line is shown a variety of routines by dance director Andy Lee (Peter Scharbrough). Dance captain Maggie Jones (Lanene Charter) encourages the dancers to learn the steps and points out, “The audience is going to pay $4.40 a seat and they want a good show.”

Selections are made and the cast takes a break. Bursting through the stage door comes a whirlwind from Allentown, Pa. by the name of Peggy Sawyer (Kaylee Verble). Though the chorus line has been set, a couple of the girls want to see what Peggy can do. She matches the girls step for step. They all agree Peggy has talent, but actors have already been hired and she is out.

Enter the star of the show, Dorothy Brock (Sarah Hund). Her boyfriend, a tall Texan named Abner Dillion (Jeff Stockberger), has bank-rolled the musical so Marsh had no choice but to hire her. Demanding and pretentious, Dorothy tries to control the show. But even she has a little secret on the side. “She was paid $30 a week but would send home $100 a week,” noted one of the dancers as she looked over toward Abner Dillion.

As these story lines go, Peggy gets hired because they need another dancer and the show packs up and heads to Philadelphia. In the course of rehearsals, Peggy bumps into Dorothy. Dorothy breaks her ankle and Peggy gets fired. Marsh wants to close the show but is persuaded that Peggy can handle the lead.

Marsh heads to the Broad Street train station and tries to convince Peggy to return to the theater. Marsh starts singing “Lullaby of Broadway,” and the rest of the cast arrives. There is dancing and singing and they finally convince Peggy that she can do it.

Peggy has her doubts but she pushes through learning dialog and dance routines in a couple of days. Finally opening night.

The funniest routine is the “Shuffle off to Buffalo” scene with Anytime Annie (Sally Scharbrough), Bert (Barry Mutter), Maggie (Lanene Charters) and the girls. It takes place in a Pullman train car with newlyweds on their way to Buffalo for their honeymoon.

From the time the curtain goes up giving the audience a glimpse of dancing feet - to the finale - the tap dancing never stops. The dance routines are flawless, entertaining and exciting.

If everyone had worn a smart-watch the cast could easily clock 100 miles a night, maybe. Kudos to Ron Morgan for his choreography.

The sequined costumes had enough sparkle and light that the cast could probably be seen from the International Space Station. Can sum it up in one word – dazzling.

The vocals were spot on. Kaylee Verble, Sarah Hund, Mark Epperson, Dan Bob Higgins, Brett Mutter and Sally Scharbrough and the cast were a joy to listen to. You know it’s a great show when you can feel the energy and excitement the cast sends out to the audience.

So dig out those old tap shoes and call 317-872-9664 or www.beefandboards.com to make reservations.