Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 11, 2022

Review: Goodspeed Musicals, "42nd Street"

Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CT
October 9 - November 6, 2022
by Shera Cohen

Blake Stadnik and Carina-Kay Louchiey
Directly underneath the program book's title of "42nd Street" is the phrase "The Tap Dance Spectacular". That it is! 

Immediately following the downbeat of the short orchestral overture, the curtain rises slowly for the audience to see the legs of the dance troupe. Up comes the full curtain to showcase the core of the show -- the 20 or so young men and women tappers in pastel costumes, 40's hairstyles, and shiny shoes. They and their choreographer Randy Skinner, who also takes on the behemoth job as director, are the stars of the show.

"42nd Street" is perhaps the epitome of the musicals that is so delightful, yet not often produced, at least at regional and/or community theatres. In the case of Goodspeed, the last romp was 10-years ago. Why? The cast is huge and nearly all must be precise tap dancers, have excellent vocal ability, and smile at the same time.

The expected big chorus/dance number, with all on-stage ends Act I. The dancers wear a costume of dimes, nickels, etc. The script's era is the Great Depression. What better way to tie the reality of the day to the comedic farce of "We're in the Money"?

The story is the typical wannabe Broadway star. Newbie Peggy Sawyer portrayed by Carina-Kay Louchiey gets off the train at 42nd Street, New York, New York, USA. The rest of the script follows Peggy's ups and downs, dreams and insecurities, and a whole bunch of new friends routing for her. 

Louchiey is a lovely actor who can do her stuff, given her large amount of on-stage time to prove it. But she doesn't knock your proverbial socks off. On the other hand, her somewhat nemesis Dorothy Block depicted by Kate Baldwin chews up the scenery and upstages everyone onstage with a fun manner that never steps on anyone's toes. Baldwin is a stalwart at several Berkshire theatres. She is always the consummate professional.

There are too many memorable songs, so trust me that each is spectacular: "Lullaby of Broadway," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," of course the title song, "42nd Street". But all is not on high-speed. "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me" and "I Only Have Eyes for You" are two of other sweeter tunes.

Aside from the block-buster choreography, the true stars of the musical are never seen by the audience at the packed house at Goodspeed. Music Director Adam Souza and eight other musicians hold the entire show together with such ease. I lost count of the number of full-cast costume changes designed by Kara Harmon. However, one change took 17-seconds. Scenic Designer Michael Carnahan thought of everything to create dozens of seamless set changes along with moving projection backdrops by Shawn Duan. Exquisite!