'42nd Street' familiar territory for school

Thursday, April 14, 2005
Peggy Sawyer, played by Joelle Trower, left, Lorraine, played by Laura Schuchart, Annie, played by Rachael Essner, and Phyllis, played by Tasha Layton tap danced to a tune as part of a rehearsal of Notre Dame Regional High School's production of 42nd Street.

It must be the season of musicals -- less than two weeks after a strong showing of "Guys and Dolls" opened at Southeast Missouri State University, Notre Dame Regional High School brings the classic "42nd Street" to its stage, reviving a show it produced 17 years ago.

And while the high school students' talents may not be as polished as their university counterparts yet, they present a story that is so basically Broadway, fans of musical theater will surely be entertained.

Joelle Trower gives a convincing performance as the lead character, Peggy Sawyer. In Broadway terms she's a bumpkin from Allentown, Penn., who wins her way into a new Broadway show called "Pretty Lady" being put on by a big shot Broadway producer named Julian Marsh. Eric McLain nails the part of Marsh, a famous producer with an intimidating and commanding presence.

Sawyer pretty much stumbles her way into the new musical being put on by Marsh and in the end becomes the star of the show. But during that time, she and everyone else in the show has to put up with the attitude of the prima donna actress Dorothy Brock, played by Rachel Roggow.

Brock is a fading star of the stage who can't really dance or sing very well, one that got places on looks alone. She has the air of royalty, treating everyone around her like untouchables and constantly positing selfish demands of Marsh. At the same time, Roggow displays a certain powerful sense of self-hatred in the character, almost creating some sympathy for the haughty narcissist.

"Pretty Lady" is really a shallow piece of work bankrolled by Brock's rich husband, Abner. Brian McCrate provides great comic relief in this role as the brain-dead redneck.

Choreographer Diana Pecord and director Cindy King had to coordinate a big cast doing a lot of tapping numbers and pulled it off fairly well for such a demanding chore. Vocal direction by Ellen Seyer also garners praise, as does musical direction by Jim Hindman.

The assistant director was Kristin Enderle.

"42nd Street" plays tonight through Sunday at 8 p.m. at Notre Dame. For more information call Notre Dame at 335-6772.

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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