Corny? You bet.
But just this side of insufferably so because the performers at SLOC, under Suzanne H. Rayome’s knowing direction, play big and self-consciously, always with a twinkle. Not even ingenue Peggy Sawyer (Christine Meglino) is fully three-dimensional. Everyone’s a type, but there are enough costume changes (courtesy of Connie Rowe Rauhauser) and unbridled tap dancing (thanks to choreographer Abby Todd) in “42nd Street” to get you cheering, which is exactly what Saturday night’s full house did.
This show is from 1980, but it draws on material from the 1933 movie of the same name, which in itself was based on a novel: a pastiche, really, a kind of love letter to the hard-working folks that aspire to put on the best damned show they possibly can, setbacks notwithstanding.
Tyrannical director Julian Marsh (the fine-voiced James Alexander) is about to stage a new musical, “Pretty Lady,” starring Dorothy Brock (Melissa Mason Lacijan), an actress whose best days are behind her but who remains a box office draw. Brock has other baggage: a sugar daddy (Robert C. Farquharson) willing to bankroll the show and a lover (Michael Camelo), both of whom annoy Marsh.
And then Brock breaks her ankle and Marsh cancels the premiere.
But wait! Peggy to the rescue! Supported by a chorine sisterhood, the young talent from Allentown, Pennsylvania, learns the steps, the lyrics, and the dialogue in no time and saves the day. In fact, she even gets a loving pep talk from Dorothy, who tells her to be so good that she’ll hate Peggy. That’s show biz.
Music director Adrienne Sherman has trained the large and young cast to belt beautifully, and she also conducts a hard-working pit band that, unfortunately, had some rough patches on Saturday.
Brad Reilly as the brash Billy Lawlor scores in “Young and Healthy” and “Dames,” among other numbers. A terrific tenor. Elizabeth Corey’s Maggie Jones is just the kind of energizer bunny every Broadway show needs: funny, optimistic, talented, and bossy. Cody Logan as Bert Barry lights up his scenes, especially “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” partnering pert Emily Fuller as Annie.
It’s a treat to see Melissa Mason Lacijan back at SLOC. She’s charmingly daffy in “Shadow Waltz” (lighting courtesy of the Rucinski team), melancholy in “I Only Have Eyes for You,” and downright motherly in the “About a Quarter to Nine” duet with Peggy.
Christine Meglino is the complete package: singer, hoofer, and actress. Her Peggy is wide-eyed here, determined there, and sincere throughout — even when she’s surrounded by a troupe, it’s hard to take your eyes off of what the gifted Meglino is doing.
And finally, that marvelous troupe. Nichole Burkus & Elizabeth Sherwood-Mack have bewigged the women in the chorus with curls and waves to complement their bright smiles as they go into their numerous routines. From “Audition” (led by Spencer Lee as Andy) to “Go Into Your Dance” to “We’re in the Money” to the show’s eponymous number in Act II, the young women (and a handful of equally eager young men) light up Marc Christopher’s Art Deco set with fierce tapping.
One man in the front row (someone’s grandfather, perhaps?) leapt to his feet frequently in Act II, and who could blame him?
The joy of performing: it’s on display on Franklin Street.
WHERE: Schenectady Light Opera Company, 427 Franklin St.
WHEN: through May 12
HOW MUCH: $28-$18
MORE INFO: 1.877.350.7378, or sloctheater.org
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