A Broadway staple soars with orchestra

Musical: In `42nd Street,' the Moonlight Troupers' talented cast builds on a solid foundation created in the pit.

Arundel Live

Review

November 13, 2003|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Moonlight Troupers' production of 42nd Street offers an entertaining evening that includes toe-tapping music played by the best-sounding pit orchestra in several seasons.

Led by Musical Director Raymond A. Ascione, the orchestra strikes up a bright overture that is followed by sensitive support of an energetic cast.

Barbara Marder - Anne Arundel Community College performing arts chairwoman and the show's director - has assembled a quartet of seasoned professionals to complement her 20-member student cast.

At the top is the talented Nori Morton, adding the role of Dorothy Brock to a repertoire that includes Roxie Hart of Chicago and Miss Adelaide from Guys and Dolls.

Morton's Dorothy is a demanding diva of considerable affectation and limited talent, who gradually reveals the lonely, vulnerable woman underneath. Despite spoofing her every musical number, Morton still invests each with nostalgic charm and an innate grace that shines through. And she does wonders for her wardrobe.

Lending admirable support are veteran actors Jerry Vess as Brock's sugar daddy, show backer Abner Dillon, and Walt League in the leading-man role of director Julian Marsh.

Vess adds humor and vigor to the role of Abner, and he knows how to put a song across. Possessing a strong baritone, League is well-cast as Marsh. As the stern Broadway director, he seems the right mix of imposing presence with barely submerged insecurity. League's singing of "Lullaby of Broadway" would have been a showstopper if he had invested it with a little more feeling.

On opening night, Trent Goldsmith, in the second lead as Billy Lawlor, encountered a few pitch problems and had difficulty projecting over the orchestra, which may be attributable to opening-night jitters.

Several students manage to hold their own with the seasoned actors. Dance student Jennifer Kohlhafer proves an excellent dancer in the second leading lady role, ingenue Peggy Sawyer. Kohlhafer is so likable that the audience wants her to succeed as ingenue-turned-leading lady. If only Kohlhafer had been able to pick up Morton's pointers at putting over a song, she would have been perfect for the role. At times, her voice was barely audible over the orchestra.

The student cast features two spectacular male dancers, Myles Park and Ryan Mahon. With the aid of some imaginative staging, they turn "Shadow Waltz" into a real showstopper. Tommy Parion's lively choreography is also well-interpreted by a bevy of lively tap-dancing chorines.

Other outstanding student actors include Erin Linnell as free-spirited, good-natured Anytime Annie and Valerie Sale as wisecracking writer Maggie Jones.

Most of the support players lend a high degree of energy to the dance numbers, although the chorus' singing could use more enthusiasm. In "Dames" the male chorus could be a little more forceful, while the chorines could use more spunk in their singing and sizzle in their dance.

Nonetheless this 42nd Street is a pleasant place to be. The costumes add to the overall stylish quality of the production, as does newcomer Rob Berry's imaginative staging.

42nd Street continues at 7:30 tonight, 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at AACC's Pascal Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets: 410-777-2457.

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