April 12, 2012… The inspiring story of a small-town girl chasing her dream in the big city is told through exhilarating tap dance numbers in the hit musical 42nd Street. Featuring Cynthia Dale and directed by Gary Griffin, this production begins previews at the Festival Theatre on Thursday, April 12.
The quintessential backstage musical, 42nd Street tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, a young girl from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who travels to New York City with the dream of becoming a Broadway dancer. To her delight she lands a part in the chorus of the new musical Pretty Lady, but when the show’s star is injured, Peggy is offered the chance of a lifetime.
“Based on the 1933 movie, 42nd Street reflects an era when the marriage of popular music and the theatre achieved unprecedented heights,” says Artistic Director Des McAnuff. “This show is a masterpiece of its kind: a song-and-dance spectacle that tells a tremendously inspiring story. In the hands of Gary Griffin, who has become a master of the Festival stage, it’s a dazzling highlight of our 60th season.”
“This is a classic and touching story that resonates with all of us,” says General Director Antoni Cimolino. “With the return of Cynthia Dale, Gary Griffin’s directorial leadership and the invigorating tap dancing numbers, this production will be an uplifting, wildly entertaining theatrical experience for theatre lovers of all ages.”
Set during the Great Depression, this piece shows how the hopeful innocence and will of one person can provide inspiration for all in the most challenging and difficult of times.
“This is a story about reawakening your dreams,” says Mr. Griffin. “Most of the characters have become jaded in one way or another. Their dreams have been jaundiced by the Depression, by disappointment, by failure. And then along comes Peggy Sawyer, this little light, who has a very simple dream: she wants to dance on Broadway. All of a sudden this girl has a very pure view that really reinvigorates everyone.”
The production features Sean Arbuckle as Julian Marsh, the director of Pretty Lady; Kyle Blair as Billy Lawlor, Pretty Lady’s lead male; and Cynthia Dale as Dorothy Brock, the show’s star and resident Broadway diva. Jennifer Rider-Shaw plays Peggy Sawyer, after two previous seasons at Stratford performing in Jesus Christ Superstar, Camelot, Kiss Me, Kate and Evita.
Other cast members include Naomi Costain as Annie “Anytime” Reilly, Kyle Golemba as Andy Lee, C. David Johnson as Pat Denning, Gabrielle Jones as Maggie Jones and Geoffrey Tyler as Bert Barry.
With music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin, and book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, this production boasts a rich and exciting score straight out of the big-band era, and features a 16-piece orchestra that, for the first time in Festival history, is positioned on stage in full view of the audience.
“This musical has a brash energy that befits its subject matter, and because of that I didn’t want the music to come through a sophisticated sound system from an invisible source up in the orchestra loft,” says Mr. Griffin. “I wanted the audience to see and feel the presence of the musicians. That’s why we’ve put the entire orchestra on stage. It was important to me to put the musicians into the world of the play.”
Artistic credits for this production include Alex Sanchez as choreographer and Michael Barber as musical director.
Other credits include Debra Hanson, designer, Paul Miller, lighting designer and Peter McBoyle, sound designer. Kerry Gage is the associate choreographer, Franklin Brasz is the associate conductor and Simon Fon is the stunt coordinator.
Production support for 42nd Street is provided by The Dominion of Canada General Insurance Company and Union Gas Limited.
This year, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 60th season, with 14 productions presented from April 12 to October 28: Much Ado About Nothing; 42nd Street; The Matchmaker; Henry V; You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown; The Pirates of Penzance; A Word or Two; Cymbeline; Wanderlust; Elektra; MacHomer; The Best Brothers; Hirsch; and The War of 1812.