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Spring musical “42nd Street” taps the night away

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The cast of

The cast of "42nd Street" sings the number "Lullaby of Broadway" to convince Peggy Sawyer, played by Ellie Lang-Ree (11), to take the place of Broadway legend Dorothy Brock in "Pretty Lady." "42nd Street" features a total of 41 performers from all four grades.

Kathy Fang

Kathy Fang

The cast of "42nd Street" sings the number "Lullaby of Broadway" to convince Peggy Sawyer, played by Ellie Lang-Ree (11), to take the place of Broadway legend Dorothy Brock in "Pretty Lady." "42nd Street" features a total of 41 performers from all four grades.

by Krishna Bheda and Sydney Takemoto

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The cast of “42nd Street,” the first upper school spring musical performed in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center, held four showings from April 19 to 21.

A tap-based musical, “42nd Street” is set in New York during the Great Depression and features a small-town girl named Peggy Sawyer, who is new to the city. The plot invites the audience along her journey to find a spot in famous producer and director Julian Marsh’s show “Pretty Lady.” After landing a small role, Peggy is fired for accidentally tripping the lead, Dorothy Brock. Despite this setback, Peggy’s talent allows her to find her way back to the grand stage.  

Director of Performing Arts Laura Lang-Ree, who directed the musical, said she chose the show for its varied elements.

“It’s perfect—it’s a show within a show about tenacity and love. It’s grand, it’s very beautiful and it gave us opportunities to show off all the different elements [of the theater],” she said.

While most of the cast began rehearsing in February, tappers began choreography and classes at the beginning of the school year in late August and early September.

“The first stages are always learning lines, but as you start to work on your character development throughout the process, you kind of forget the meaning of what you’re saying as you go along,” Sameep Mangat (12), who played the role of Dorothy Brock, said. “My character’s very diva and very over-the-top, and I’m not used to being a stereotypical Broadway diva. Just embodying this person who is way older than me and kind of the opposite of me has been my challenge.”

The production team consisted of Lang-Ree, musical director Catherine Snider, choreographer Katie Champlin, associate choreographer Marcie Shapiro, scenic designer and technical director Paul Vallerga, costume designer Caela Fujii, lighting designer Natti Pierce-Thomson, sound designer and production manager Brian Larsen, properties designer Ruthe Stein, tap trainer Marie Stinnett and house manager Michelle Larsen.

“We had some special guests like Marie Stinnett from Marie Stinnett Dance. She’s a legend in dance and worked on Broadway as a choreographer and performer… she’s helped me out with Downbeat kids in the past with training,” Lang-Ree said. “[When I mentioned this musical to her], she just took it on. The amount of time she’s spent with our students and the wisdom she’s imparted is crazy.”

Throughout the process of preparing for the musical, the cast bonded through rehearsals and workshops. Welcoming to both newcomers and experienced actors, the production helped strengthen existing bonds and create new friendships.

“‘42nd Street’ was a great experience. I met a completely different group of people, and I was immediately accepted. We worked a lot and worked very hard, but the outcome was really worth it.” ensemble member Arthur Jakobsson (9) said.

Upcoming performing arts productions include the annual spring vocal concert in the Rothschild Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. on May 3.

Student musicians Grant Miner (10), Allie Yen (10), Jacob Kim (11) and Bobby Schick (12) converse before the start of spring musical "42nd Street." The musical featured a total of six student musicians, who performed live accompaniment to the show from the theater's orchestra pit.

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Spring musical “42nd Street” taps the night away