Dancing Toward Your DreamsDirector's notes by Gary Griffin
42nd Street, the quintessential backstage musical, is a surprisingly accurate depiction of what people go through to get a new show onto Broadway. The characters' struggles are very similar to ones I've experienced or observed. There's so much that conspires against a new musical ever getting to the finish line, yet you see the incredible collective will of all these people working together to get it there. That's one of the things I find inspiring about this show.
There's an old saying that when the characters in musical theatre can't speak any more, they sing; and when they can't sing any more, they dance. That's very true of this piece. At the beginning, when the characters are auditioning for Julian Marsh'sshow, they're doing more than just performing for him. There's areal desperation behind their dance: they need to get a job inorder to survive. All the way through, dance is the show's mosteloquent form of expression. And I can think of no better way ofcommunicating joy through dance than tap; you just can't be unhappy watching tap.
42nd Street is one of what I call the "noisy" musicals- and I mean that in the best possible way. It has a certain brash energy that befits its subject matter, and because of that I didn't want the music to come through a sophisticated sound system from aninvisible source up in the orchestra loft. I wanted the audience to see and feel the presence of the musicians.That's why, in what I think is a first for the Festival Theatre,we've put the entire orchestra on stage. It was important to me to put the musicians into the world of the play.
This is a story about reawakening your dreams. Most of the characters have become jaded in one way or another: their dreams have been jaundiced by the Depression, by disappointment, by failure. Julian Marsh, for instance, has lost money on Wall Street, he's broke, he needs a hit. And then along comes Peggy Sawyer, this girl from Allentown, Pennsylvania, who has a very simple dream: she wants to dance on Broadway. And she reminds Julian that he got into theatre in the first place because he loves it, because to him"musical comedy" are the two greatest words in the English language.
By making people remember their own dreams, Peggy transforms thespirit of everyone she encounters. I hope this show will remind usall of any dreams that we too may have lost along the way.
Program notes by James Magruder
In the annals of the Broadway musical, there are the hits thatwin awards and turn a profit. There are the monster hits that runand tour internationally for years. And then there are themega-hits: the must-see, standing-room-only, impossible-ticketphenomena that do all of the above and provide a seismic jolt tothe self-esteem of the industry and its practitioners, as if tosay, "See, even one hundred years after Kern and Wodehouse andBolton revolutionized the form, Broadway can still steal thespotlight away from television and YouTube memes and Twitter andwhatever else is waiting for us on our iPhones." These events -which, according to my timetable, come along about three times adecade - prove that there's a dance in the old dame yet.
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April 26 -