Hanford High tapping its way to '42nd Street' starting Jan. 31

Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 28, 2014 

A young idealistic actor with big dreams of performing on Broadway arrived in New York City with 40 cents in her pocket at the height of the Great Depression.

Despite the despair ravaging the country in the 1930s, this dancer heard that famed director Julian Marsh was planning to mount an extravagant musical called 42nd Street.

That's the story behind the Tony award-winning musical comedy 42nd Street, which will be presented by Hanford High starting Jan. 31 in the school's auditorium in Richland.

"It's a Broadway fairy tale about a young woman who comes to New York to make it on Broadway," said director Matt Leggett.

After a clumsy start, dancer Peggy Sawyer, played by Katie Evans, gets a part as a chorus girl in the biggest show in a decade. Then the lead actress, Dorothy Brock, gets hurt, and Peggy gets her big break, hoping she can fill the shoes of the injured star.

"While the plot line is very familiar to us, 42nd Street is about more than that," Leggett said. "The play is also about overcoming adversity and having the courage to follow your heart's desire and the wisdom to what that is."

Clive LePage, 17, plays Marsh. He describes Marsh as an intriguing character who is more real than fictional.

"Directors are always conscious of everything, yet their mind is more of a real and true person," LePage said. "This mindset is particularly venerable, and genuinely difficult to portray on stage. Marsh is a good-natured man, but his rigidity occasionally obscures his appreciation for theater."

Anna Hansen, who plays Dorothy, said her character constantly puts up a facade throughout the show, which meant she needed to connect with her character on a more intimate and meaningful level.

"Dorothy Brock is a fabulous character, very sassy and divalike," Hansen said. "The most difficult aspect of portraying her is in finding a way to create a certain depth to the character that reveals her truest self."

42nd Street earned all kinds of awards when it debuted on Broadway in 1980, earning Tony Awards for best musical and revival, an Olivier Award for best musical, and Drama Desk Award for outstanding musical.

Broadway playwrights Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble wrote the story for 42nd Street with lyrics by Al Dubin and music by Harry Warren.

The musical had a long run on Broadway and continues today as a touring company worldwide.

Kelsey Wehner, a former dancer with Eastern Washington Elite dance team, returns to her alma mater as the choreographer for 42nd Street.

"It has been such a great show to work on and really challenges me as a choreographer," Wehner said.

Only a few students knew how to tap dance, so last summer Wehner started offering tap classes to students, which continued until auditions for 42nd Street last fall.

"Tap dancing is different from any other type of dance because if you are not together, you will be able to hear it, not just see it," she explained. "And with this show having a good amount of tap dances, it really made me push myself as a choreographer and push the cast to learn something unique.

"I'm so excited to watch it all fall into place and watch (the cast) put on a wonderful show."

The 40-plus member cast will sing and dance their way across the stage singing familiar 42nd Street tunes like You're Gettin' to be a Habit with Me, Dames, I Only Have Eyes for You and We're in the Money.

Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 1, 5, 7-8 with a 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 8. The auditorium is at 450 Hanford St., off George Washington Way in Richland.

Tickets cost $12 for reserved seats and $10 for general admission. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at Adventures Underground in the Uptown Shopping Center in Richland.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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