There’s something elemental about the title song for the musical 42nd Street, currently onstage aboard the Showboat Majestic. “Hear the beat of dancing feet,” the lyric goes, “It's the song I love the melody of, Forty-Second Street.” Of course, the quintessential show about putting on a Broadway show, overcoming obstacles and finding a fresh young star is punctuated by the beat of those dancing — well, actually tapping — feet. And the rhythm is contagious.
I went to opening night wondering how this show would work on the Showboat, which has a very cramped stage. But thanks to director Matthew Wilson, choreographer Jeni Schwiers and an ambitious cast of tap dancers, they crowd onstage for some fancy footwork that will keep audiences tapping their own toes during July.
The hardworking cast is a solid ensemble, and the production includes good solo performances by Matt Dentino as hard-driving director Julian Marsh and Abby Sheridan as aspiring performer Peggy Sawyer who stumbles into stardom in her first Broadway show. Other roles are adequately handled, although solo voices suffer from an uneven sound system and a pre-recorded soundtrack that holds singers to a slightly slow tempo and many awkward start-ups.
But there’s lots to dazzle in this production, including an astonishing array of glittering costumes (designed by Caren Young) and lots of familiar Harry Warren tunes, including “We’re in the Money,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and especially “Lullaby of Broadway.” Whenever things start to drag or become mawkish (the show is full of expected caricatures and predictable moments), that dancing starts up again, and you forget about the cornball “sugar daddy,” the over-the-hill star and the full-of-himself tenor. Then it’s just fun, “the hip hooray and bally hoo” that drives the lullaby of Broadway. It’s a good way to spend a summer evening.
42ND STREET, presented by Cincinnati Landmark Productions on the Showboat Majestic, continues through July 24. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.