Theater

Review: Star-studded “42nd Street” Thrills at Woodstock Opera House

“42nd Street” is a larger-than-life song and dance show. For the new Woodstock Musical Theatre Company’s production running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 21, the show starts off with a revved-up dance number and the energy and excitement builds until the final curtain.

The setting is New York City in the midst of the Great Depression. Legendary director Julian Marsh has set his sights on bringing a new blockbuster musical to Broadway.

Beth Davis expertly directs a stellar cast for an evening of thrilling entertainment. “42nd Street” is a big tap dance show, and choreographer Kevin Kline is up to the task. Kline cultivates excellent and intricate dance performances from the entire cast. Vocal director Charlie Sommers is equally up to the challenges of the show, guiding the cast to flawless harmonies and memorable vocal performances.

Travis Greuel is perfectly cast as authoritarian director Marsh. With his chiseled features, fine voice and charisma that fills the room, Greuel commands the stage with seasoned expertise. It is a performance not to be missed.

Marsh’s show within a show (“Pretty Lady”) is set to star veteran box office draw Dorothy Brock, thanks to the financial backing of her sugar daddy. As Brock, Suzanne Stalker is in fine form. Her voice is smooth and expressive, aptly capturing all the nuances of the Harry Warren score and Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer lyrics. She is a joy to watch.

Brock’s leading man in “Pretty Lady” is Billy Lawlor, played by Parker Stancato, whose captivating smile, precision dance moves and pleasant voice make for a fine performance.

Enter would-be ingenue Peggy Sawyer, a small-town girl who moves to New York in hopes of cashing in on her song and dance talents and landing a chorus role in a Broadway show. Peri Sindberg is a delight as Peggy, capturing the hearts of the audience who root for her success. Sindberg is an amazing dancer and very skilled vocalist. Her smile is infectious.

The ensemble of WMTC’s “42nd Street” is every bit up to the challenge of matching the energy and talent of the lead characters. Among the noteworthy supporting characters are Aaron Gomez and Janaan Rose as the writing team behind “Pretty Lady,” Hannah Shepherd as Broadway hoofer Anytime Annie, Christopher Plotts as Brock’s secret love interest Pat Denning, and Paul Lockwood as Brock’s sugar daddy investor Abner Dillon.

“42nd Street” would not succeed without great singers, dancers and actors, and WMTC’s production is filled with them. Rounding out the cast are Karen Greuel, Jessie Pohlman, Allison Goers, Mayanna Tomaszewski, Avery Harvey, Ben Carver, Ryan Lange, Kaleb Staab, Ryan Martin, Spencer Stanley and Karen Smith.

Not to be outdone, conductor Dave Childress has his orchestra primed for a night of invigorating entertainment. The spot-on pit musicians include Danielle Cairoli on piano, Sue Childress and Carolyn Awe on reeds, David Byers on drums, Lou Dolman on upright bass, Brian Anderson on trumpet, and Kristin Lundine Miller and Rich Nielsen on trombone.

Definitely worth mentioning are the costuming talents of Erin O’Brien, minimalist but effective set design by Kent Wilson, period wigs by Virginia Zymonas and lighting design by Deb Holmen.

“42nd Street” is not an easy show to produce. Thankfully, WMTC’s cast and artistic team are up to the task. It is highly recommended that you treat yourself to fine night of entertainment with “42nd Street” – you’ll be glad you did.

• Rikki Lee Travolta has headlined, directed and choreographed productions around the country. He has written two novels and a memoir available at Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and at your local bookstore. He currently hosts a weekly radio program profiling stage, film and television musicals. “It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee” airs 7:30 p.m. Mondays on 101.5 FM, with streaming and podcasts available at www.huntleyradio.com. For information on Rikki Lee, visit www.rikkileetravolta.com.

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WHAT: “42nd Street”

WHEN: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through October 21.

WHERE: Woodstock Opera House, 121 Van Buren Street, Woodstock.

COST & INFO: Rated at least PG. Schedule: Fridays (8 pm), Saturdays (8 pm), and Sundays (2 pm). Tickets $22 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. Tickets and information: (815) 338-5300 or www.WoodstockOperaHouse.com.

• Rikki Lee Travolta has headlined, directed and choreographed productions around the country. He has written two novels and a memoir available at Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and at your local bookstore. He currently hosts a weekly radio program profiling stage, film, and television musicals. “It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee” airs 7:30 p.m. Mondays on 101.5 FM, with streaming and podcasts available at www.huntleyradio.com. For information on Rikki Lee, visit www.rikkileetravolta.com.

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