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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Theater review: ‘42nd Street’ packs a lot of charm into those tap shoes

It’s impossible to be sad when there is tap dancing.

If you need to escape the vitriolic politics on your Facebook feed, or the latest fear-hyping on cable news, you’ll find some cheer, at least for a few hours, in watching a couple dozen talented young hoofers tippety-tap-tapping in perfect unison to some of the catchiest songs ever written.

If this sounds good to you, head to the INB Performing Arts Center this weekend, where the touring production of the Tony-winning “42nd Street” is sure to leave a smile on your face.

Because what’s not to love? It’s a rags-to-riches story about a fresh-faced young actress, Peggy Sawyer (Caitlin Ehlinger), who gets off the bus in New York City and heads straight to an audition for “Pretty Lady,” the latest Broadway musical directed by Julian Marsh (Matthew J. Taylor) and starring Dorothy Brock (Kaitlin Lawrence). It’s 1933, and Marsh is desperately in need of a hit after the stock market crash, so when Brock’s sugar daddy, Abner Dillon (Mark Fishback), offers to put up the cash to mount the show, provided Brock star, Marsh doesn’t have much choice.

There are complications, of course, because there have to be in this kind of show. There’s a secret lover and torn allegiances, rash decisions and moments of doubt. But mostly there’s singing and dancing.

As Marsh, Taylor (seen on the same stage last season as Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls”) brings solid acting chops and a strong voice to the stage. His work on “Lullaby of Broadway” and “42nd Street (reprise)” are quite strong.

Ehlinger’s Peggy is innocent and sweet. She has a pretty voice that especially shines in “Young and Healthy” (performed with Blake Stadnik as Billy Lawlor) and the title song toward the end of Act II. She also does really good work sharing Peggy’s emotions with the audience. We can feel her nervousness as Peggy takes center stage. Oh, and she’s a heck of a dancer, too.

Lawrence also has a lovely voice, and she puts it to good use in “I Only Have Eyes for You.” Supporting player Natalia LePore Hagan as the chorus girl, Annie, is terrific throughout, but especially in “There’s a Sunny Side to Ev’ry Situation” and “Shuffle Off to Buffalo.”

That number is one of several strong ensemble pieces in “42nd Street.” Set on a train car as it takes honeymooners to Niagara Falls, it’s a fun bit of quick takes and fancy choreography. “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Getting Out of Town,” “We’re in the Money” and “42nd Street” also are a blast to watch.

The choreography is so good and so classic that you just can’t help but have fun. From lead actor to ensemble, there are a lot of talented performers on stage, all tapping their toes in perfect rhythm. As the song goes, “Come and meet those dancing feet on 42nd Street.”

“42nd Street,” reviewed Thursday at the INB Performing Arts Center, continues through Sunday. For tickets or information, visit