Can you tell me how to get, how to get to "42nd Street"?
42nd Street, now playing (through July 26) on the Chanhassen Dinner
Theatres’ main- stage. Dinner and show: $55-$74; show only: $43-$62.
Reservations: 952/934-1525; 1-800/362-3515, www.chanhassendt.com.
For years I have been looking for an antidote to the Darwinian travails of
“talent-based” reality shows like American Idol. These shows, which are in
fact scripted for maximum emotional impact, have many things to be
troubled by, but I am most offended by the emphasis on other contestants as
the enemy, the block to one’s path to success. It really becomes survival of
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres’ current mainstage show, 42nd Street, offers an
alternative view of the path to the big time for unknown-but-talented artists.
Set in Depression-era New York, “42nd Street” becomes the allegory for the
dreams and ambitions of creative people.
It’s easy to say that they don’t write scripts like this one anymore, but this
offering by Chanhassen demonstrates why “they” should. And this 42nd
Street cast, under Michael Brindisi’s direction, gets just about everything
possible out of this script.
The story is one of aging starlet Dorothy Brock (Michelle Barber) whose
unfortunate accident provides an opportunity for chorus girl newbie Peggy
Sawyer (Jodi Carmeli) to show her stuff in a show that will make or break it
for producers, actors, dancers all. Love stories abound, of course, as well as
the constant insecurity everyone feels about a chorus girl becoming a star.
But the desperate backdrop of the economically challenged times is clearly
present as well.
Often a show’s lead actors drive the story in a musical. 42nd Street is a little
different; it is the ensemble that creates the energy that excites the
audience, and Chanhassen is blessed with a strong cast of characters.
Julianne Mundale, playing Annie Reilly, the first dancer who, with a good bit
of skepticism, gives Peggy a chance, and Jay Albright as Bert Barry, the
comedic relief of the show, brighten the stage with each entrance.
Familiar tunes by the talented song-writing team of Harry Warren and Al
Dubin invite viewers in, but the kinetic energy and character appeal of the
actors/dancers seal the deal. The pit orchestra is also to be commended for
a strong performance.
The original story and the nature of Chanhassen’s rendition meet in Peggy’s
decision at the end of the show about where to go for the cast party. Always
a chorus girl, even as a star, she makes a statement of where her future is
42nd Street made me long for the day when a nice, young NDSU grad, after
surviving all the firings by Mr. Trump on The Apprentice, can tell The Donald,
“No thanks, that’s not how we treat people where I’m from. You can keep
Chanhassen’s 42nd Street makes me think that this could actually happen.