500 costumes, 100 wigs, 22 musicians and 96 dancing feet add up to a hit as Montclair State students bring 42nd Street, the extravagant, award-winning, long-running Broadway musical, to life at the Kasser Theater.
the Academy Award-nominated 1933 movie of the same name, the 1980 Broadway
musical won the Tony Award for Best Musical. In 2001, it again took home the
Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.
University’s production of the iconic backstage success story, which will run
from February 28 to March 8, is just as lavish as the Broadway originals.
of the costumes were designed by Roger Kirk for the 2001 Broadway revival,”
says Theatre and Dance professor Clay James, who is the show’s director. Built
for the European tour, the costumes and the more than 600 hats, bow ties,
gloves and other accessories that go with them are rented from Troika
Entertainment, a leading musical theatre production firm. Costume Shop
Supervisor Judy Evans, who is coordinating all the fittings, has a definite
advantage, according to James. “It just so happens that she worked on building
the 2001 Broadway production and so is very familiar with Kirk’s designs.”
Perez-Duel, who is playing the role of Peggy Sawyer, has a lot of costume
changes. “In the second act, when I’m not on stage, I’m changing,” she says.
“I’m so excited about all of my costumes – they are stunning!”
Production/Design major Derek Robertson has designed more than 100 wigs for the
show. “I ordered the wigs for all the chorus and styled them myself, with the
help of three other students,” he says. “I designed the wigs for the five
principal female characters, and had a company called Wigboys realize those
designs with much higher quality wigs.”
doesn’t just make wigs. He is playing the part of Bert Barry in 42nd Street. “I love
character roles. I am quite a character myself, so this role fits me,”
Robertson says. “Bert gets a lot of laughs.”
Cherin, a junior who hopes to receive his BFA degree in Musical Theatre in May
2015, is playing leading man Julian Marsh. “The thing I most enjoy about
playing Julian is his natural commanding presence,” he says. “The character
gives me the ability to develop a deep sense of confidence.”
from the start, Cherin was determined to land the part. “When I was younger, my
mother would sing ‘Lullaby of Broadway’ to me, which is a big reason I wanted
the role so badly. Now I can sing it back to her!”
James, making the decision to stage the celebrated musical was easy. “Our
students need the opportunity to continue to grow as performers and apply the
dance technique they are learning in class, especially tap dance,” says James.
basing our production on the original choreography of the late Gower Champion. Broadway
and regional productions almost always return to the original staging. If our
students are familiar with the original choreography, it is most certainly a step
up in the audition process for professional roles,” he adds.
Dlugos brings first-hand experience to her role as the show’s associate choreographer.
“She performed in the original Broadway production and is helping to
reconstruct the original choreography,” explains James.
production is faithful to the original in other ways as well. “We are building
all the sets here on campus. We had the good fortune of reaching out to Douglas
Schmidt, who designed the scenery for the Broadway revival and adapted his
original designs to fit the Kasser Theater,” says James. Schmidt’s assistant
Martin Flynn is working with the crew to bring the production to scenic life. A
75-student crew has built the sets and is running the production.
22-member student orchestra led by veteran Broadway conductor Greg Dlugos sets
toes tapping to showstoppers like “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “We’re in the
Money,” and, of course, “Forty-Second Street” from the moment the curtain rises
to the actors’ final bows.
James, the rewards extend beyond directing such a professional caliber
production. “My favorite thing is witnessing the growth of performance and
production skills in the students – and knowing they feel they are part of
something pretty special.”
Tickets are on sale now for the March 1 – March 8 performances of 42nd Street. For more information and tickets, visit Peak Performances.