May, 2001

Ford Center
213 West 42nd Street
New York

Potomac Stages Broadway 

42nd Street

Music by Harry Warren
Lyrics by Al Dubin
Price range $26 - $91

The new revival of 42nd Street, the 1978 hit song and dance extravaganza, is a hit in the Ford Center on 42nd Street. It has a fabulous performance by Kate Levering and Christine Ebersole won the only Tony Award this year going to a performer not in The Producers. This is a show that feels like a morale boost for lovers of big tap dancing chorus numbers.

Storyline: In Depression-Era New York, young Peggy Sawyer – fresh off the bus from Allentown, PA – gets her first job in the chorus of a Broadway musical. On opening night the star can’t go on and Peggy is told to "go out there and come back a star!"

​This is the same story as the 1933 Warner Brothers movie that had five songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin. Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble expanded the story and added songs from other movies. There are murmurs of recognition from the audience each night for ""We're in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," "You’re Getting To Be a Habit With Me," "I Only Have Eyes for You" and, of course, the big finish "42nd Street."

Bramble directs this revival with all due deference to the original which was directed by the legendary Gower Champion. It was Champion’s last show and became a legend when Champion died just hours before the opening night curtain and the producer – the "abominable showman" himself – David Merrick kept the news secret until he could announce it himself from the stage after the curtain calls.

42nd Street never was great art, but it was a fabulous showcase for craft. This revival pulls out as many stops as necessary to keep moving from one "wow" to the next "oh!" Music director Todd Ellison kicks things off rising from the orchestra pit on an elevator-assisted podium to conduct the overture (Y’up, god bless ‘em – they have a full overture just like all those other old Broadway shows!) As he subsides back into the pit the first number starts up and one of Gower Champion’s legendary touches tells you what you are in for . . . the curtain rises just enough to show 64 tap dancing feet. Just the feet, mind you. It has been said that the opening of a musical has to tell the audience what the entire show is all about and there is no better description of what 42nd Street is about than dancing feet.​​