By Bob Evans
From the beginning of the overture, the audience clearly expected and received an outstanding theatrical production when “42nd Street” opened Tuesday, May 1 at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts with the well-known music from the 1933 film of the same name.
“42nd Street” tells the story of the Broadway newcomer who ultimately leads in the production of “Pretty Lady” and enters the show as an unknown and emerges as a star. While Peggy Sawyer goes from unknown to star, and delivers the lion’s share of the tapping, the show alway s lists the character Julian Marsh as the star. Even in the original movie credits, Marsh is listed first in cast list. Expect the same with the live version of “42nd Street.”
To call the show a tap extravaganza best describes the show. “42nd Street” is filled with dazzling tap sequences, well-known musical numbers, a silly but engaging story line, great characters, spectacular performances, a splendid ensemble of dancers. The show contains no drama or dark sequences and is just glittery fun for the entire family. Do not miss this opportunity to see the show. This production is Broadway caliber. This is one of the best tours to visit Kansas City in the past 3 years.
For the KCPA production, Matthew J. Taylor led the production as the producer, Julian Marsh, and filled the role with his strong stage presence, precise acting, and exact dance timing. Top to bottom, he gave a performance that displayed the driven producer who reluctantly falls for the young upstart, Peggy Sawyer. Another strong performance for the show comes from Kara Gibson Slocum who portrays Dorothy Brock, the well-known actress who provides the expectation of success to “Pretty Lady” after a career that lifted her to the status of bankable star–something needed to guarantee the success of the new Broadway show. Taylor and Slocum give the show life and create the conflict that keeps the audience engaged throughout.
The real fire-power of the show comes from the hopeful NYC newcomer, Peggy Sawyer, brought to life by Clara Cox in a stunning display of dancing and singing that should propel her upwards like the character she portrays. Cox’ vocals are strong, but her dance magically transformed the show into from show-stopping sequence after another. She’s a triple threat for any part she auditions. She dances, sings, and acts…no weaknesses apparent.
Two other actors in the show that gave strong performances were Connor Coughlin and Gerrianne Genga who appeared throughout the show. Both were fun when on stage and their characters gave the show a fullness and better story line.
The production, brought by Theater League of Kansas City roars into town for a one week run at the Kauffman Center and is not one to be missed by any dance student. The choreography, lighting, sound, sets, staging, costumes and all technical aspects of the show are fabulously crafted. There are no flaws in this production.
The mens and women’s ensembles all deserve praise. Their precision on tap numbers just mesmerized and electrified the audience who broke out into applause during several tap sequences. Unfortunately, the program does not furnish photos to help identify performers and their names did not stand out in the show. One male dancer, who seemed to be the dance captain or choreographer in the opening sequence definitely stood out in the male ensemble. Carlos Morales definitely kept this reviewer’s attention in the dance numbers. His dance and expressions when in the front amazed the audience, and when he stepped into ensemble work, he continued to shine. Great dance skills.
According to Theater League of Kansas City, “‘42nd STREET’ is the tap dance extravaganza that is essentially Broadway’s “reality show” filled with backstage drama centered around the American dream of becoming a star. Musically, it includes some of the most notable standards ever written, including ‘We’re In The Money,’ ‘Lullaby of Broadway,’ ‘Shuffle Off To Buffalo,’ ‘Dames,’ ‘I Only Have Eyes For You’ and of course ‘42nd Street’.”
The show is produced by Big League Productions, Performance Schedule for “42nd Street” at the Kauffman Center: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 7:30pm Thursday, May 4, 2017 7:30pm Friday, May 5, 2017 7:30pm Saturday, May 6, 2017 2:00pm & 7:30pm Sunday, May 7, 2017 1:00pm & 6:30pm
Tickets to the show are on sale now and are available online at BroadwayInKC.com, KauffmanCenter.org, at The Kauffman Center box office or by calling 816-994-7222. Group tickets of 10 or more can be ordered by calling 1.866.314.7687.
Please Note: BroadwayInKC.com, KauffmanCenter.org and The Kauffman Center box office are the only official sources for tickets to all shows in the 2016-17 Kansas City Broadway Series. If you purchase tickets through another source, you may pay over-inflated prices and your tickets will not be guaranteed.