Ocean State Theatre’s “42nd Street” Is A Good Time

Apr 30, 2014

The cast of 42nd Street, playing at Ocean State Theatre through May 18th.
Credit Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

Yeah, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a Broadway baby at heart. After all, “42nd Street” does go on for two hours and forty minutes. It’s filled with deliberately bad jokes and dialog like this: Says a director to an actor:  “Musical comedy.

The greatest words in the English language.”

Then there are songs just thrown in for no reason whatsoever. There’s huffing and puffing. And great cliches like the old guy with big bucks chasing the leading lady. And did we mention tap dancing? There’s enough to almost collapse the stage at the new and very fine home of Ocean State Theater.

So, “42nd Street” seems to go on forever, especially in that first act. But you know what? This  show has lovely, funny—sweet music by the long forgotten composing team of Harry Warren and Al Dubin.  And, eventually, it gets around to that great American myth that if you just give it everything you’ve got, you will get ahead.

Gerrianne Genga, as Dorothy Brock, is surrounded by the chorines in Ocean State Theatre's "42 Street."
Credit Mark Turek / Ocean State Theatre

In this case it’s a little girl from Allentown, PA who gets off the bus in New York with stars in her eyes and an arsenal of talent, too. Big deal. Happens every day, and most of the stage struck kids never make to Broadway much less to fame and fortune. But, as you may guess, in this musical she does, after lots of ruts in the road. Her name’s Peggy Sawyer, blonde and beautiful and talented, too. We watch her slide through the bad moments. She hangs in, and wins in the end.

The key here is for the director and cast to get down to that fanciful story about the kid finally making it. Under direction by Amlee Turner, that happens. Among all the silly jokes and overkills, this “42nd Street” catches the needed flavor.

As Peggy Sawyer, Lauren Defilippo shows us wide-eyed hopes and dreams and also displays the drive that will get her over the finish line. As the overboard director, Russell Garrett could be a bit more driven. But eventually he finds the insight that makes you believe he could lead people to success.

The all important chorus of singers and dancers, both female and male, are funny and strong throughout. And they sure can dance.  There’s also wonderfully giddy costumes by Brian Horton.

So, in the end, “42nd Street” has many a fault. If it were re-done today it would

be shorter, crisper, and more pointed.   But, as we say today, it is what it is. If you

go with it on that basis, I think you’ll have a good time. And it may just be that it’s one of the show’s best songs, “Lullaby of Broadway,” that will get you.

Want To Go?

“42nd Street” continues at the Ocean State Theatre Company in Warwick through May 18th.

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