42nd Street Wows the Crowd

'42nd Street' by the Montclair State University's Department of Theater and Dance received a standing ovation.

42nd Street captivates audiences.

42nd Street
Photo courtesy of Catherine Baxter.

Students in Montclair State University’s Department of Theater and Dance are no strangers to the stage, and their talent lit up Kasser Theater during Thursday night’s performance of 42nd Street. Held on Montclair State’s campus, the combination of dazzling costumes, a beautiful set and amazing talent made this a performance no audience member will soon forget.

42nd Street, directed and choreographed by Clay James, is set in the 1930’s in New York City (and, for a short while, Philadelphia). 42nd Street is a tap-heavy show which tells the story of a young chorus girl, Peggy Sawyer (played by Natalie Perez-Duel), who comes from a small town and ends up stealing the lead in a Broadway show – but not without a lot of hard work, that is.

Perez-Duel was cast perfectly in this role. Her petite stature added to the innocence of her character, yet as soon as she began to move her feet, all eyes were on her. Perez-Duel danced with perfection and moved her feet so quickly it was almost difficult to keep up.

Opposite Perez-Duel was Nicolette Burton, playing super-diva Dorothy Brock. Brock was the celebrity who first was the lead in the show, until she broke her ankle and had to be replaced by Sawyer. Although she was completely unbearable with her attitude towards the other characters, once she broke her ankle, Brock finally began to realize that there are more important things than being the center of attention. Burton did an excellent job portraying this character, using hysterically exaggerated movements to compliment her beautiful voice.

Christopher Cherin played the “show’s” director, Julian Marsh. Marsh was an extremely stern character, yet Cherin was able to turn that sternness into a somewhat comedic, yet compassionate performance. Just as talented as any of the lead roles was the amazing ensemble. 42nd Street is a show full of large dance numbers, almost entirely composed of tap dancing. The ensemble dancers perfected their intense songs, even sometimes dancing on top of large, fake quarters and dimes.

Adding to the dedication of the dancers was their costumes. Roger Kirk, the original costume designer, and Debra Otte, costume associate, made some of the most beautiful on-stage costumes. Ranging from sailor outfits to dresses coated in sequins, there was never a dull moment when it came to how the actors were dressed. The gorgeous costumes only made it that much easier for the audience to immerse themselves in the 1930’s scene.

Scenic designer Douglas Schmidt and associate scenic designer Martin Flynn also did an excellent job, creating one of the most intricate sets I have seen at Kasser. Ranging from a train station to the “Honeymoon Express,” the set transported the audience to the 30s. It was an unfortunate moment at the end of the show when the curtains came down and the audience was snapped back to 2014.

42nd street
Photo courtesy of Catherine Baxter.

If you are a theater-lover or are just looking for a fun night out on the town, head over to the Kasser Theater this weekend and see the show before it closes.  42nd Street will continue to run until March 8. The remaining showtimes are as follows: March 7 at 7:30 p.m. and March 8 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Refreshments are available at the concession stand before the performance, but no food or drink is permitted inside the theater at any time. For light foods and coffee, Cafe Diem is located in close proximity to the theater and connected to the library. For a full menu available 24/7, the Red Hawk Diner is located on the far end of campus.

Tickets are available at the box office located in the Kasser Theater or online at the Peak Performances website, peakperfs.org. The Kasser Theater is located towards the front of campus next to the Red Hawk Parking Deck. Montclair undergraduate students are permitted one free ticket with their student ID. All tickets are $15. Parking is available in the Red Hawk Deck as well as the Transit parking lot across campus at an hourly rate. Public transportation that runs directly in front of the Kasser theater is also available.

Don’t “shuffle off to Buffalo” – be sure to catch the Department of Theater and Dance’s performance of 42nd Street before it’s too late!

Additional reporting by Victoria Fisher.

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