Tuesday, September 1, 2015

reviews - 42ND STREET - Spotlight Youth Theatre

Katie Czajkowski and Michael Schulz (center) and the cast
Photo: Alayne Vogel, Memory Layne Photography
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through September 13.

Based on the classic Warner Brothers 1933 musical of the same name, 42nd Street is a nostalgic look at the backstage shenanigans of a Broadway musical...Spotlight Youth Theatre’s opening production at its home base in Glendale is a wonderful way of helping audiences temporarily escape the late summer doldrums; it’s the theater’s season opener and it’s great fun. Peggy Sawyer (Katie Czajkowski) is the wide-eyed innocent fresh off the bus from Allentown, Pennsylvania.  She’s in New York to follow her dreams at a time when money and employment, not to mention food, were hard to come by.  She does what many other young women of New York did at the time – as a way escaping the reality of starving on the streets she auditions for the chorus of a Broadway show.  Fortunately for Peggy, she’s actually better than many of the girls already dancing, and in true wish-fulfillment Hollywood style, it’s not long before she’s hired.  You’re familiar with the rest; the prima donna star, Dorothy Brock (Kira Kadel) breaks an ankle and it’s young Peggy, the chorus girl, who goes on in her place.  “You’re going out there as a youngster,” declares director Julian Marsh (Michael Schultz), “But you’ve got to come back a star!”...The young cast tackles Alicia Frazier’s demanding tap-dancing choreography with the same kind of energy displayed by those Hollywood hoofers of the time...Kira Kadel as prima donna Dorothy has a standout duet with Peggy with About a Quarter to Nine, while Sydnie Greger comically shines as chorus girl Anytime Annie.  Phoenix Briggs delivers the right amount of eager, boyish charm as Billy, but the two you’ll remember are Michael Schulz as demanding director Julian Marsh and Katie Czajkowski as Peggy.... both Michael and Katie have taken the casting opportunity afforded and, under director Kenny Grossman’s guidance, delivered the kind of performances deserving of extra future attention. Those individual moments when both actors share the stage, working together, help elevate the overall production to another level.  And if together they can’t help you forget the late summer doldrums, nothing will. " -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"There is a line in the musical 42nd Street where one of the adult characters in the show exuberantly proclaims “she’s young, kids can do anything.” The same statement could be made about the extremely talented cast of young performers in Spotlight Youth Theatre’s production of this classic backstage musical. These kids may all be in their teens but they act, sing and dance with an infectious glee, full of professionalism and charm, which make Spotlight’s production of this classic, dance heavy show a musical comedy treat....While the story is extremely lightweight and predictable, the virtual non-stop dancing throughout and the infectious songs...make the end result a joyful experience. ...Director Kenny Grossman doesn’t make a single misstep, ensuring that the comedy moments are funny, and that the charm of the characters isn’t lost beneath the abundance of vibrant dancing, exceptionally choreographed by Alicia Frazier. ...As Peggy Sawyer, Katie Czajkowski is appropriately na├»ve, energetic, spunky and bright eyed. Her radiant personality and lovely dancing and singing have the audience rooting for her to succeed. Michael Schulz instills the demanding director Julian Marsh with the right amount of steadfast power that the role requires but he also shows hints of charm, fatherly advice and even a touch of vulnerability, turning what could easily be a wooden role into a three dimensional person. While Schulz doesn’t sing much in the show his solo version of the title song at the finale is excellently delivered. ...Kira Kadel gives Dorothy the right balance of vulnerability, fierceness and maturity and a big dusting of old time star power that combine to bring the role vibrantly alive, full of layers and nuance. Kadel’s flawless line delivery, facial reactions and comic timing are spot on and her earthy, bold and brassy voice works well with Dorothy’s solos, including a perfect take on “I Only Have Eyes for You” and a touching duet of “About a Quarter to Nine” that she and Czajkowski deliver perfectly. ...While Spotlight’s stage isn’t very large, Grossman manages to open it up as far as possible to make the large dance sequences come to life....Frazier’s choreography... is full of lively dance step...Rhea Courtney and Richard “Mickey” Courtney’s costumes are period perfect, including numerous outfits for the whole cast for both the many Pretty Lady dance sequences as well as appropriate street clothes. Trey DeGroodt’s hair and make-up designs are exceptional, firmly rooted in the 1930’s...With an exceptional cast, lively staging and an abundance of virtual non-stop dancing, Spotlight Youth Theatre’s 42nd Street is a knock out."  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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