'42nd St.' paved with delights Musical: The Chesapeake Music Hall's fast-paced production is a triple threat: The singing, dancing and acting are tops. The buffet is tasty, too.

September 17, 1998|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

After a day of hearing about the lurid Kenneth Starr report, I needed to lift my spirits. Fortunately, the opening Friday of Chesapeake Music Hall's "42nd Street" offered the perfect antidote.

"42nd Street" delights the senses with a wonderful score of familiar Harry Warren-Al Dubin tunes such as "You're Getting to be a Habit With Me," "Lullaby of Broadway," "Shadow Waltz" and the title song.

This is a feel-good show that defied form by going from the screen to the stage. It started as a 1933 Busby Berkeley movie musical and was reincarnated as a Broadway stage show in 1960 by the legendary dancer-director Gower Champion.

When all 24 members of Chesapeake Music Hall's cast dance and sing together, the stage overflows with energy and talent.

The best dancer is Jodi Adkins, convincing as new Broadway star Peggy Sawyer. As in the show, Adkins, a high school senior, becomes a star before our eyes. Other outstanding dancers include her amazingly poised 14-year-old sister, Ashley.

It's a treat to watch the Adkins sisters dance in a chorus line with the Rose brothers, John and Joe, a couple of classy hoofers. In his dynamic athleticism, John reminded me of Gene Kelly.

Good singers abound

Great tunes also need good singers, and CMH has them in abundance, starting with Sherry Kay, who can put heart into any tune. She had a cold on opening night, but it did nothing to diminish her star power as Dorothy Brock. Another terrific singer is Tere Fulmer, who can belt with the best of them and enliven any stage.

Deserving triple mention for skilled dancing, great singing and superb acting is Katy McAllister Dankaert, who is so warm and wholesome she reminds me of fresh-baked apple pie.

Noteworthy male singers include the Rose brothers and baritones David Reynolds and Tim Wrobel. Though Wrobel was well cast in the role of Pat Denning, he had only one song, and he deserves more.

David B. Reynolds continues to amaze with his versatility. He just completed a very convincing portrayal of shop owner Mushnik in CMH's "Little Shop of Horrors," and he commands the stage as driven director Julian Marsh. What is miraculous about his tour de force performance is that Reynolds learned the role in only 2 1/2 weeks, taking over for the injured Jason Fulmer, who originally was cast as Marsh.

The fast-paced show is well directed by Doug Yetter. Technical director Garrett R. Hyde does a good job with the sound and lighting design. Technician Karel Richardson also gets credit for set design and construction. Stage manager Pam Nisttahuz deserves kudos for seamless set changes. As usual, Sherry Kay's costumes are works of art. Chef Joe Rose turns out a very tasty buffet.

Forget the headlines and get down to Chesapeake Music Hall to enjoy this delightful show, which runs Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons through Nov. 22.

Call 410-626-7515 for reservations.

Pub Date: 9/17/98

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