February 20, 2008

Chorus girl taps her way to stardom
in Sacramento State’s 42nd Street

Photo: Brad Bong and Heather Kenyon in Sacramento State’s musical production of the quintessential Broadway fable, 42nd Street, part of the University’s Festival of the Arts. Brad Bong and Heather Kenyon in Sacramento State’s musical production of the quintessential Broadway fable, 42nd Street, part of the University’s Festival of the Arts.


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The idealized Broadway of the 1930s, with its chorus girls, stage door Johnnies and sugar daddies, will live again when Sacramento State presents 42nd Street at the University Theatre.

Written by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, the production is directed and choreographed by Theatre and Dance department professor Ed Brazo. Performances are at 8 p.m., March 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29; at 2 p.m., March 16, 23 and 30; and at 6:30 p.m., March 20 and 27.

The story of a chorus girl who becomes a star after replacing the injured leading lady is an enduring one. It began it’s life 85 years ago as a novel and then the popular Warner Brothers movie starring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. The stage version opened on Broadway in 1980, featuring songs from the movie and other popular tunes of the 30s such as “We’re in the Money,” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”

What makes this musical last?

Brazo acknowledges the story is far-fetched one, with the Broadway hopeful arriving in New York only to be a star within a matter of weeks. But he adds that that’s also part of its charm. “It’s an awfully good way to think about life,” he says. “The kid has a dream.”

For the Sacramento State production, Brazo will fill the stage with 40 performers singing and tap-dancing their way through the story of the Broadway ingénue.

Heather Kenyon plays chorus girl Peggy Sawyer and has been using her own emotions to get into character. “I think about what I’m like, about kids wanting to become stars, and just the dream of becoming a star,” she says.

Paul Richard Alary has been keeping his eye on Brazo for inspiration to portray Julian Marsh, director of Pretty Lady, the show within the show. Alary also has traced the roots of the “Marsh” family name back to 1600s Virginia. “If the authors don’t map the character out for you, you have to,” Alary says.

And he’s also found out what gives the character his drive. “Marsh is passionate about one thing and that’s making hit shows,” Alary says.

After 85 years of entertaining audiences, 42nd Street will most likely remain a hit well into the future.

Tickets for Sacramento State’s 2 and 8 p.m. performances are $15 general admission; $12 for students, seniors and Sacramento State employees; and $10 for children 11 years old or younger. The 6:30 performances are $10 general admission and $7 for students, seniors and children. Tickets are available at the Sacramento State Ticket office, (916) 278-4323 or www.tickets.com. For more information call the Theatre and Dance department at (916) 278-6368 or visit www.csus.edu/dram. For media assistance, call Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.