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West Potomac High School 42nd Street

By • May 9th, 2007 • Category: Cappies

“You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!” This now iconic line encompasses the moral and story of 42nd Street, the musical performed by West Potomac High School this past weekend.

42nd Street began in the 1930’s as a movie, and premiered on the stage in 1980, first at the Kennedy Center and then on Broadway later the same year. Incidentally, the night the show was to be performed in 1984, the actress portraying Peggy Sawyer and her understudy fell ill, leaving the part to a chorus girl, Catherine Zeta-Jones. 42nd Street is one of the longest running Broadway musicals.

Dorothy Brock (Candace Scholz) giving Peggy Sawyer (Kathleen Wheeler) advice before the curtain goes up on 'Pretty Lady.'
Dorothy Brock (Candace Scholz) giving Peggy Sawyer (Kathleen Wheeler) advice before the curtain goes up on “Pretty Lady.”

West Potomac’s production was truly an entertaining show. Beginning with a tap number, and ending with a tap number, with tap numbers in between, West Potomac put on a dance intensive show that was well received by the audience.

As Peggy Sawyer, Kathleen Wheeler captured hearts with her naive and sweet nature and her adept dancing and singing, shown especially in songs like “Young and Healthy” and “Forty-Second Street.” As the aging, self centered prima donna Dorothy Brock, Candace Scholz brought laughs to the audience with her characteristic horrible dancing and comical one liners. As director Julian Marsh, Paul Disselkoen encompassed that loud, controlling, yet fatherly director stance perfectly.

Supporting cast was as good as the leads, with Molly Weisblatt as writer Maggie Jones and Steven Minson as Billy Lawlor. Weisblatt was excellent as Maggie, with a no-nonsense attitude, a sharp tongue, and plenty of advice for her chorus girls. Minson as Billy was memorable as well, with his wonderful voice, and adorable, believable crush on Peggy. Also supporting was the enormous chorus, from the rehearsal crew to girls dancing on dimes in “We’re in the Money.” The chorus should be especially commended because tap dancing is no small feat, and having at least thirty high schoolers tap dancing, and tap dancing well, is a phenomenal accomplishment.

Maggie Jones (Molly Weisblatt) sings for Julian Marsh (Paul Disselkoen), Dorothy Brock (Candace Scholz), Bert Barry (Mike Casey), and Abner Dillon (Frank Collins).Maggie Jones (Molly Weisblatt) sings for Julian Marsh (Paul Disselkoen), Dorothy Brock (Candace Scholz), Bert Barry (Mike Casey), and Abner Dillon (Frank Collins).

For a show like “42nd Street” that has scene changes at almost every song, having a fast and efficient stage crew is a must, which West Potomac has. The scene changes never took over two minutes, allowing the audience to stay focused and anticipatory of what was to come next. Sound by Cliff Smircina while practically flawless during the first act, had some patchy points during the second act. The incredibly fast costume changes by members of the cast were entertaining to watch.

With a musical to the scale of “42nd Street,” any high school drama program could be overwhelmed, but West Potomac performed with energy, enthusiasm, and confidence that no one would be able to know the work that went into the production. It was swell!

by Kathleen Ogden of TC Williams.

This review was written by a Cappies high school critic. The Cappies were founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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is a program which was founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.

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