The Arlington Players 42nd StreetBy Jennifer Gusso • Apr 14th, 2011 • Category: Reviews
The Arlington Players
Thomas Jefferson Theater, Arlington, VA
Through April 23rd
2:30 with intermission
Reviewed April 10th, 2011
42nd Street tells the story of a Depression-Era mounting of a new Broadway production called “Pretty Lady.” It centers on young Peggy Sawyer from Allentown, PA, who is looking for her first big break. It shows the good and bad behind the scenes. Mostly, the plot is simple, and the scenes are relatively short. The songs are cute and catchy but not the real challenge of the show. It boils down to one thing when you mount a production of 42nd Street: Tap. If the tap is extraordinary, nothing else matters. If that tap falls short, nothing else matters. Luckily for The Arlington Players (serendipitously acronymed TAP), although there are a few minor issues with other aspects of the production, the choreography and tap dancing is phenomenal, and that alone makes this show well worth seeing.
From the opening number with the scrim rising to reveal twenty-six feet tapping in perfect unison to the closing bows and more synchronized tap shoes, the choreography was brilliant. Director and Choreographer John Monnett explained in the program that he is “known for [his] work combining props and/or sets into intricate formations of dancers.” When you make bold promises in your Director’s Note, you had better be ready to back that up. Monnett certainly was. One notable example was the use of ribbons and shadows through the scrim to create incredible and also humorous choreography during “Shadow Waltz.” Another excellent example was the use of large dimes that turned into platforms during “We’re In the Money.” Those are just two examples of the amazing choreography in this show that continually found new and different ways to showcase the dancers in each number. This could also not have been done without the incredibly skilled dancers that performed every single number in perfect unison and with excellent showmanship.
Another star of the show was the sets. Rotating pieces that were wheeled in and out reconfigured into many different and beautiful backgrounds. Each set was full of color and details and was in perfect sync with the mood and choreography of the scene. Costumes and props were also period-appropriate and beautiful. Whether they actually had it or not, The Arlington Players made the entire production look like they were working with a Broadway-sized budget.
Also adding to the amazing production numbers was an absolutely incredible orchestra. When the overture started, they were so very good that I almost thought they were using canned music until I saw heads poking out from the pit. An excellent sound team also kept perfect balance between the orchestra and the performers without any feedback.
Compared to the choreography, the vocals, which were very good, were not the star of the production numbers. The acting fell a fairly distant third and was not really the strength of most of the performers, but, when you are casting this particular show, you have to cast dancers first and foremost. The performers were good enough that they were able to carry the scenes on to the next dance number. The notable exceptions were Jolene Vettese (Maggie Jones), Jack Stein (Bert Berry), and Patrick McMahan (Pat Denning) who were very strong as actors. The other principals made up for any acting deficits with great looks for the roles, strong vocals, and amazing dance ability.
The lighting was also very good, although there were a few snafus in the running. A major problem occurred when the lights were turned off before the last line in a scene. As soon as the actor started speaking the last line, lights realized their error and turned back on for the rest of the line and then back off. If the lights had remained off, the audience would have assumed that the director had intended for the line to be said in the dark. By turning back on, they let the audience in on the fact that they had made an error. In an otherwise clean and seamless production, the lights were just below the standard set by the other areas of production.
None of it really matters though. The choreography was some of the best that I have ever seen, and they had the dancers to bring it to beautiful, amazing life. This show is all about the tap, and The Arlington Player’s tap is so very, very good that everyone and anyone who can should go and see this production.
Photos by Michael deBlois
- Peggy Sawyer (young, talented & hopeful): Erin Ryan
- Dorothy Brock (a Broadway Star): Jean Cantrell
- Julian Marsh (Director, “Pretty Lady”): Harv Lester
- Billy Lawlor (Juvenile lead, “Pretty Lady”): Tim Adams
- Andy Lee (Dance Director): Duane Monahan
- Maggie Jones (Co-author, “Pretty Lady”): Jolene Vettese
- Bert Barry (Co-author, “Pretty Lady”): Jack Stein
- Pat Denning (Dorothy’s former Vaudeville partner): Patrick McMahan
- Abner Dillon (“Angel” for “Pretty Lady”): Dave Moretti
- Ann Reilly (Anytime Annie) (sub-principal, “Pretty Lady”): Marla McClure
- Phyllis Dale (a chorus girl): Reeny Eul
- Lorraine Flemming (a chorus girl): Amy Cropper
- Ensemble (the company of “Pretty Lady”): Wesley Allen, Elizabeth Appleton, Sean Cator, Grace Cunningham, Devin Dasbach, Ashleigh de la Torre, Mario Font, Mark Hidalgo, Eliza Jane, Sally Kiernan, Carmen McClaskey, Lindsey McClenathan, Danny McKay, Don Michael Mendoza, Sam Nystrom, Claire O’Brien, Cathy Oh, Maureen Reed, Karen Toth, KC Tydgat, Mike Usowski, Joseph Wilson & Erica Wisniewski
Creative and Technical Design Team
- Producer: Irene Molnar
- Director & Choreographer: John Monnett
- Music Director: John-Michael d’Haviland
- Conductor: Leah Kocsis
- Stage Manager: Terri Carnahan
- Technical Director: Scott Drew
- Set Design: Christopher Smith
- Set Painting: Russell Kopp
- Set Dressing & Properties: Kristin Visaggio
- Lighting Design: Ryan Desmond
- Sound Design: Keith Bell
- Costume Design: Kara McCall-Desmond
Disclaimer: The Arlington Players provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/6419.
Jennifer Gusso has been involved in theatre in the state of Maryland and DC for most of her life. She has acted, directed, choreographed, stage managed, and held a million other odd jobs. She has a B.S. in English from Towson University, and is currently pursuing her Master's Degree to become a Reading Specialist. She is a Maryland State Certified English, Theatre, Elementary, and Mathematics Educator. After teaching English and Drama for many years, she now teaches 6th grade Language Arts at Magnolia Middle School in Harford County, Maryland. She wrote the curriculum currently used in Prince George’s County Public Schools for Drama I and Drama II. She now writes and directs plays and musical for use in church.