'42nd Street' leads to music, dancing Play: September Song will open its 24th season tomorrow at Westminster High School with the musical set in the 1930s.

September 12, 1997|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

It's dance, it's music, it's just plain fun -- it's "42nd Street," presented at your local high school by September Song.

The community theater group opens its 24th season tomorrow at Westminster High School with this happy, tuneful Broadway play about a young woman's dream come true.

"There's about 15 musical pieces, with a lot of tap dances and real glitzy costumes," said Ken Berry, director and longtime September Song actor. "It's a feel-good kind of show; it makes you feel good when you leave."

Set during the 1930s, "42nd Street" tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, a naive 21-year-old who goes to New York City with aspirations of being cast in a Broadway musical.

When the leading lady of the play "Pretty Lady" twists her ankle, young Peggy gets her dream part.

Wendy Wilson of Finksburg portrays Peggy, and Valerie Kershaw of Westminster plays Dorothy Brock, the leading lady looking for her first hit in several years.

This play within a play can get a little confusing when it comes to Berry and his roles with September Song. Berry directs the play, which means he "sort of has to do everything," he said.

He also plays the part of the choreographer of "Pretty Lady," a job his sister Mary Lois Powelson does for "42nd Street."

"The choreographer creates the dances and the production numbers," Berry said. "Mary Lois and I worked together on the numbers. We're not doing the original dance numbers, because when you get the music, you don't get any choreography notes."

Berry and Powelson had to create their own dance numbers to fit the songs and the cast members, who range in age from 16 to their 60s, Berry said.

Among the play's most popular and well-known songs are "Lullaby of Broadway," "We're in the Money," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and the title tune, "42nd Street."

The audience will see a good bit of Berry tap dancing. He also is a trained dancer.

Berry said this year's cast of "half new and [half] veteran actors adds a new dimension to the play. It's a good cast; they've been a pleasure to work with."

Other major players include Tony DeRosa as the director of "Pretty Lady"; veteran Edith Burbage and Chuck Lambert as Maggie Jones and Bert Barry, two of the writers of "Pretty Lady"; and Gary Schwartz as Pat Denning, Dorothy's former vaudeville partner and clandestine boyfriend.

Bob Miller is Abner Dillon, Dorothy's millionaire boyfriend who is backing "Pretty Lady" financially, and Brian Irons is Mac, the "Pretty Lady" stage manager.

As always, proceeds from this annual performance go to Change Inc. and the Therapeutic Recreation Council, which provide services to the developmentally disabled.

September Song will present "42nd Street" at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Sept. 19 and 20, and at 2: 30 p.m. Sunday at Westminster High School, 1225 Washington Road. Tickets are $10. Information: 410-857-8569.

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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