Rehearsals for the national tour of 42nd Street began July 8 in New York City, and the company was told there will be some enhancements in the show that aren't a part of the current smash on Broadway.
Scenic designer Douglas W. Schmidt has his work cut out for him taking the large set and reconceiving it to fit in various venues (to say nothing of the trucks), choreographer Randy Skinner told Playbill On-Line. Skinner confirmed that the touring show (set to launch Aug. 4 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, MO) will indeed include what's new and special about the current revival's physical production: The tilted mirrors showing the ensemble's dance patterns (in the fashion of Busby Berkeley) and the finale's staircase, on which a battalion of tappers strut their stuff.
"We will have a staircase — all the promoters wanted the staircase and the mirrors because those are the elements, scenically, that are all so different and new," Skinner told Playbill On-Line. "We will not have a turntable, so I have to figure out how to [make] those images — I have to keep the girls moving more physically themselves, as opposed to allowing the turntable to do it."
Will the road see anything completely new?
"I have a whole section I had to cut for New York, because of time, which I will re-instate," Skinner said. "It's this wonderful concentric three-rings of the girls doing these steps in all different directions, which will be wonderful in the mirror." The scale will be smaller on the road, naturally. "The staircase will be smaller in size, so I have to do some thinking about that," Skinner said.
The casting was made public with the first rehearsal. There is no marquee star. The producers of this current revival have thought all along that the show is the star (despite the fact that Christine Ebersole won the Tony playing the fortysomething faded diva, Dorothy Brock, in the musical).
The principals include Catherine Wreford (plucked from the ensemble of Broadway's 42nd Street to play lead hoofer Peggy Sawyer), Patrick Ryan Sullivan (as Julian Marsh), Blair Ross (as Dorothy Brock), Patti Mariano (as Maggie Jones), Frank Root (as Bert Barry), Robert Spring (as Billy Lawlor), Paul Ainsley (as Abner Dillon/Stagehand), Darren Kelly (as Pat Denning/Understudy Julian/Stagehand), Alana Salvatore (as Anytime Annie), Dexter Jones (as Andy Lee), Tom Judson (as pianist Oscar), Michael Fitzpatrick (Mac/Doctor/Thug plus Understudy Denning and Dillon), SuEllen Estey (Understudy Brock, Jones). The company also includes Christopher Nilsson, Dennis Kenny, Jimmy Groh, Shane Braddock, Brad Hampton, Graham Bowen, James Gray,Gavin Lodge, Shane Dickson, Kevin Worley, Michael Crowley, Jason Marquette, Kristen Gaetz, Angela Kahle, Cara Cooper, Vanessa E. Sonon, Heather Ginther, Jennifer Ierardi, Stephanie Cadman, Jennifer Tangjerd, Josette Wiggin, Amy Frankel, Beth Johnson, Sally Wong, Amber Owens, Allison Marburg, Jennifer Read, Melissa Fagan, Deana Villei, Tatiana Cardenas, Rosie North, Jennifer Leigh Schwerer, Hilary Rushford, Kristyn Smith, Amanda Kloots, Tony Palomino, Ashley Ayer, Abbie Cooper and Jeremy Benton.
The 2001 revival of 42nd Street, now playing at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, won the Tony Award for Best Revival, and is an expansion of the smash 1980 hit. Skinner and director Mark Bramble (who is the show's co librettist) added additional Al Dubin-Harry Warren numbers to the score (including "With Plenty of Money and You," "Keep Young and Beautiful").
The original was conceived by director-choreographer Gower Champion (although Skinner did the tap work), Michael Stewart co-wrote the book. The show is based on the Warner Bros. film (drawing on its score, and score from other movie musicals) and the earlier novel of the same name. The showbiz fable tells of the girl from Allentown who lucks into the chorus of a Broadway show during the Depression and ends up going on for the injured leading lady — and becomes a star.
Producers are Dodger Theatricals, Joop van den Ende and Stage Holding.