Do They Know the Steppes?: American Troupe Opens 42nd Street in Russia, Oct. 11

By Kenneth Jones
11 Oct 2002

The vodka may be flowing freely Oct. 11 after the opening of 42nd Street in Moscow, where an American troupe led by Meredith Patterson as Peggy, begins an English-language run of the hit musical.



The vodka may be flowing freely Oct. 11 after the opening of 42nd Street in Moscow, where an American troupe led by Meredith Patterson as Peggy, begins an English-language run of the hit musical.

Performances play at the MDM Theater (Moscow Youth Palace) in Russia. Shonn Wiley, Patterson's real-life "beau" (according to her elaborate official website, www.meredithpatterson.com), plays Billy Lawlor opposite her in Russia. Both performers are veterans of the current Broadway revival, though the 42nd Street in Russia will be a hybrid of the Tony-winning 1980 version and the 2001 Tony-winning revival.

Troika Entertainment's Randy Buck, the American producer of this production not linked to the hit Broadway revival, told Playbill On-Line Oct. 11 is the "grand opening" of the multi-month run, which could go as long as eight months.

Director-choreographer Randy Skinner (who only handled the choreography for the current Broadway staging, which Mark Bramble helmed) flew to Moscow Sept. 19 to join up with his assistant, Rick Conant, who had worked with the chorus and dance leads for 10 days, getting the numbers mounted.

The cast of the Moscow premiere of the show includes Emily Fletcher, Susan Grady, Nicole Sotto, Natalie Krill, Amber Harvie, Tiffany Helland, Kathryn Venverloh, Nicole Bourgeois, Ariel Reid, Natalie Langlois, Alison Stodola, Cheryl Jameson, Krista Kurtzberg, Shannon O'Bryan, Deven Marie Miller, Ginger Merritt, Amanda La Vergne, Jackee Guillou, Danya Gensiorek, Tia Mathieson, Sara Mason, Kristy Ambrosetti, Brendt Reil, Abram LeVasseur, Richard Arnold, Luis Figueroa, Louis Palena, James Bradley, Phillip Attmore, Darren Donahue, Patrick Stiles, Clark Johnsen, Michael Shelton, Matthew Kilgore, Joshua Scheer, Leo Ash Evans. John Wescott is Andy Lee and Kelly Shook is Anytime Annie.

Musical director is Stephen Bates, who was on the original tour in 1982 and also spent time in Europe with the show.

The scenic-costume designer is Russian and the lighting designer and tech team were assembled by Troika.

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Randy Skinner has been associated with 42nd Street as its tap master since 1980, when the stage version the classic Warner Bros. film landed big on Broadway.

"It's the first time an American cast in English is going over to present a big new musical," Skinner previously told Playbill On-Line.

Because of budget restrictions from the Moscow producer, one creator was required for both direction and choreography. Mark Bramble, the show's co-librettist, staged the current Tony Award-winning revival on Broadway and other major revivals.

"When all the big ones are done, Mark, being the author, gets the calls and then we do them as a team," Skinner said. "But this one they had to go with one person to do both."

The production is not an official spin-off tour of the current revival, which is a revised version of the 1980 hit. Skinner created tap choreography under director-choreographer Gower Champion for the original show and directed and/or choreographed many productions — in stock, overseas and on tour — over the years. Champion died on the opening night of the show, in 1980.

Will Moscovites see the 1980 script and score?

"I think it's going to be that, although I'll do a lot of the new stuff that I've done in other productions," Skinner said. "I don't think we're going to do the new [Broadway] numbers. We won't do the four added ones."