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Song, dance take center stage in EDMT's '42nd Street'

By: Eileen Wilson, Telegraph Correspondent
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Broadway characterized “42nd Street” as a musical extravaganza, and after seeing the blockbuster show at El Dorado Musical Theater, you will probably characterize it that way, too. The show, which debuted in 1980, is set in the ‘30s, where young Peggy Sawyer arrives from small town Pennsylvania on the doorstep of the Big Apple, a suitcase in hand, and dreams of stardom in her heart. The show, nominated for several Tony Awards, both in its original run, and for Best Revival in 2001, has thrilled audiences in well over 3,000 performances in New York, London’s West End, and across the United Kingdom and Asia. It’s easy to see why audiences love the show. “Because it’s such a spectacle — it’s so joyful,” said Debbie Wilson, EDMT’s choreographer and director. “There are so many great tap numbers — it’s just all about the production numbers, and the whole company dancing and singing.” Wilson said the first time the cast rehearsed the opening number with music, the result was something really special. “I just couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘this cast is just amazing’.” Wilson has had experience with the show on a professional level, and is still passionate about the production, and the larger-than-life music. “Songs like The Lullaby on Broadway, You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me, Young and Healthy, they’re all amazing,” Wilson said. “The musical style is fun, it’s up-beat, a lot of people will know the songs, and Peggy, played by Carly Speno, is the definitive Broadway dream story. It’s the whole ‘dream-come-true’ thing. In 36 hours, Peggy learns 25 pages, six songs, and 10 dance numbers — she becomes a star” Speno, who has been singing and dancing with the company for over a decade, is right for the role. “It’s so great to see how she has grown. She’s talented, sweet and dear — she’s just perfect for the role,” Wilson said. Speno can’t imagine what could be better than starring in “42nd Street.” “Honestly, just getting to dance so much, and learning all the choreography is wonderful. I’ve never gotten to play a character like Peggy before. She’s so spunky and free-spirited, yet so naïve. It’s really fun,” Speno said. “I especially love all the tap (dancing) — expressing myself in that way.” Speno explained that the show is a real workout, with numerous back handsprings, cartwheels, lifts, and more. “It’s been a fun challenge to learn the choreography, and to perfect it. And the ensemble is such a big part of the show, as well,” she said. “42nd Street,” which is part of EDMT’s Encore series, includes a cast comprising older students; 39 teens who have been working together for some time, and it shows. “It’s fun for them because they just interact with each other. The choreography is really hard. We’re doing the original Broadway chorography on the opening scene, and I can tell you that they never worked harder on Broadway than we’ve done on this number,” Wilson said. Acrobatics are involved in the production; feats that the audience is sure to enjoy. “The dance numbers are incredibly difficult. It’s tough, and we are absolutely loving it,” she said. * * * “42nd Street” Who: El Dorado Musical Theater When: Thursday through Sundays, Feb. 17-March 4. See Website for times. Where: Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Tickets: $14-$29 Info: edmt.info, (916) 941-7464