Tue 16 to Sat 20 November 2004
Palace Theatre, Redditch
Producers – Tony Jay and Tony Lacey
Musical Director – Norma Kift
Choreographer – Val Archer
Society Accompanist – Pauline Sherlock
Nominated for NODA West Midlands Best Programme Award
|Ann Reilly (Anytime Annie)
Susan Tudberry shines at the heart of this hard-working company. As the girl who moves from chorus reject to become the star of a new musical, she offers innocence, desperation and twinkling feet in a line-up that meets the tap-dancing demands head-on and emerges triumphant.
She receives sound support all round, with Elizabeth Bird (Maggie) rivetingly outstanding as a one-woman dynamo throughout the action and in numbers like Go Into Your Dance.
The production is backed, fronted and sometimes drowned by a splendid brassy band whose nostalgic sound could do with turning down a notch or two, to the benefit both of the vocal score and the occasional dialogue.
The transatlantic accents are not always convincing. Americans can’t say Avenue for a start — and that does tend to crop up quite a lot. And it was hard to be certain from the third row of the circle, but on the first night Julie Keeley (Dorothy) looked to be scoring a medical first with a plaster cast over her tights.
This is essentially a team effort, achieved with minimal scenery and bucketfuls of enthusiasm.
Evening Mail, November 2004
A tap-dancing delight
This happy-tappy show at the Palace Theatre positively radiated the enthusiasm and enjoyment obviously felt by the participants.
There were, of course, the usual great singing performances by society stalwarts such as Elizabeth Bird and Julie Keeley, together with excellent contributions by Rosalyn Chalk and Mark Williams amongst others.
Tony Lacey was good playing the slightly scary but underneath big softie Julian, and Susan Tudberry was wonderful as Peggy, the country girl from Alanstown hoping to make it as a Broadway star from the chorus line. But the show was a tap-dancing delight and all praise to choreographer Val Archer, who has done wonders to bring about such fabulous dance routines, and all in perfect time as far as I could tell.
Co-produced by Tony Lacey and Tony Jay, the whole thing looked effortless and easy, which probably means that a great deal of hard work has gone on behind the scenes.
The music, under director Norma Kift, was very good but, of course, there was great material to work with. I was still humming the title tune the next day.
Redditch Advertiser, Wednesday 24 November 2004
A lively, tuneful chorus line
This collaboration between Tony Jay and Tony Lacey was most enjoyable. An accomplished cast with Susan Tudberry in her first lead role outstanding as Peggy. Tony Lacey (Julian Marsh) also gave a very good performance.
A lively, tuneful chorus line with very energetic dance routines was uplifiting. The audience were tapping their toes and singing (quietly) the well known and superb Harry Warren music and Al Dubin lyrics.
Congratulations to Val Archer who got the whole cast and chorus dancing to a very good standard after months of hard work. Orchestra underpinned the whole show and lighting, costumes and scenery were of a high standard.
NODA News, Midlands Area, Spring 2005
42nd Street was quite a departure from our normal choice of show, in that the emphasis is possibly more on dancing than it is on singing or plot. With such importance placed on the dancing skills of the company, there were inevitably doubts as to whether we would ‘pull it off’, and some wondered outright if ROS had made the correct choice of show.
People need not have worried – 42nd Street was a triumph.
This was Tony Jay’s first stint on the production team, and he was joined as co-producer by Tony Lacey who had worked on many of the Society’s recent shows. Before we even started rehearsals, Val and Norma ran six weeks of tap-dancing lessons for the company, just to get them ready for the endeavours ahead.
We had a big company for the show, and made the decision to split people up between numbers, with different groups of people being involved with different songs and routines. Whilst this was logistically difficult to plan, it worked very well, and even those who were disappointed not to be selected as the main ‘tappers’ found themselves with plenty to do in this lively show.
The week at the theatre started worryingly, to say the least. On Sunday, the get-in and technical rehearsal day, it was gone 11pm when we finally had to finish, despite having only run four or five numbers. The next day’s dress rehearsal was almost as bad, running well over time, and finishing without an orchestra (who had all left and gone home) and with huge headaches due to the surprisingly cumbersome and poor quality of some of the scenery. Many members of the Society were voicing opinions that this was one of the worst dress rehearsals ever!
Decisions were made to cut large amounts of scenery, leaving some scenes with only a small semblance of the original plans. Last-minute orders were passed from the producers to the company and stage crew, and we all held our breaths as the show opened on Tuesday night.
What a miracle! The show was excellent and, with only the odd technical hitch (which were sorted out for the rest of the run), went down a storm with the audience. We were so grateful to our stage crew, headed by the wonderful Diane Williams.
Our six-performance run was the most successful show in recent memory, with an average fill of almost 95% across the week. This also meant that the show made quite a good profit, despite us originally budgeting for a small loss (we were happy to spend as much money as was needed to make this show look great). The word-of-mouth was wonderful, the reviews excellent, and everybody in the company seemed to have a great time.
The excitement and enthusiasm that this show generated from the start of rehearsals was carried right through to the last performance, and it was a credit to everybody involved on the production team, back stage and in the company. Now we’re all wondering, how do we top this one?
Synopsis of the Show
- Opening Tap Audition
- Young And Healthy
- Shadow Waltz
- Go Into Your Dance
- You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me
- Getting Out Of Town
- I Know Now
- We’re In The Money
- There’s A Sunny Side To Every Situation
- Lullaby Of Broadway
- About A Quarter To Nine
- Shuffle Off To Buffalo
- 42nd Street
The show opens with a bunch of hopefuls auditioning for a part in the chorus of the new Broadway musical, Pretty Lady. It is 1933 at the 42nd Street Theatre in New York. Naive young country girl, Peggy Sawyer, turns up late but catches the eye of juvenile lead, Billy Lawlor, who tries to woo her and get her into the company. Unfortunately she is sent away, but accidentally leaves her purse behind. On the way out, she collides with feared director, Julian Marsh.
The auditionees are told they are all in the show. Julian and the two writers, Maggie Jones and Bert Barry, discuss how they desperately need a hit after the Wall Street Crash. This is why they have had to cast the fading star Dorothy Brock in the lead. Dorothy has not had a hit for ten years and cannot dance, but is being wooed by Abner Dillon, a millionaire who will fund the show if Dorothy is the star. Her ex-partner and lover, Pat Denning, appears from the wings. Dorothy is scared Abner will catch them, so sends Pat to wait in her dressing room.
Maggie finds Peggy and gives her back her purse. She invites her to lunch with five of the chorus girls. They dance on the way and they are impressed by Peggy, as is Julian who watches from afar. Julian discovers them singing and dancing and sends them back inside. However, he finds he is one dancer short and Peggy is in! At rehearsal it is obvious Billy and Dorothy are not a well matched couple. Peggy is not well and is struggling to cope with the numbers and faints. She is taken to Dorothy’s dressing room.
Dorothy catches Peggy being tended to by Pat and jumps to conclusions. Abner finds them and jumps to more conclusions. Julian is annoyed at having his rehearsal interrupted, and wants Pat to keep away from his temperamental star. Julian hires two thugs to beat Pat up, and so Pat leaves a message for Dorothy saying that he won’t be back and is moving to Philadelphia. Co-incidentally, Dorothy hears that the show is opening in Philadelphia as well, and not Atlantic as usual!
Once in Philadelphia, the company start to rehearse one of their big numbers, but Dorothy is furious she only appears at the end of the song, and demands it is rewritten. Billy is pleased to be taking Peggy to Maggie and Bert’s party, and Julian decides for the first time ever to attend a party once he realises his feelings are developing for star struck Peggy.
A well-oiled Dorothy is rude to all, especially Abner, over whom she throws her drink. Maggie talks him into not pulling his money out of the show. Peggy overhears Julian plot to persuade Pat to leave again. She tries to get Billy’s help, but Billy is upset that Peggy is thinking about another man. Peggy tries to warn Dorothy, but Dorothy is sure Pat and Peggy are having an affair.
It is Opening Night of Pretty Lady in Philadelphia, and we are into the final numbers. All is going well until Peggy is pushed and collides with Dorothy who falls in pain. Dorothy is carried, off and Peggy is fired.
Julian Marsh announces the closure of the show when it turns out his star has broken her foot. The chorus eventually persuade Julian to let Peggy try the part and he rushes to the station to catch her. Peggy needs to be convinced to come back, but she is eventually persuaded.
The company are back in New York, and the rehearsals are gruelling. Peggy is allowed no rest. She is just coping with the dancing, but struggling with the kissing scene. Julian helps her, but Peggy has no self confidence. She is helped, however, by a wheelchair bound Dorothy who realises that Peggy is indeed talented, and offers her some advice. Peggy feels better, and Julian reminds her that the lives of a hundred people depend on her. He soothes her nerves and gives her a big kiss for luck.
The Broadway opening of the show is a hit! Afterwards, the new star is invited to a swanky party at The Ritz, whilst all the other kids are going to a party at Lorraine’s. Billy is disappointed that Peggy has to go to the Ritz, but she tells him a star can do anything – and she decides to go to Lorraine’s party instead. Billy is thrilled.
Julian congratulates Peggy, who in turn thanks him for his help and invites him to the party. He seems a new person, and sings to celebrate his new hit show and his wonderful new star performer!
Music by Harry Warren. Lyrics by Al Dubin. Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble.
Based on the Novel by Bradford Ropes. Direction and Dance by Gower Champion.
Originally produced on Broadway by David Merrick.
An amateur production presented by arrangement with MusicScope and Stage Musicals Ltd of New York.