MHS Musical Made Dreams Come True!
Audiences came along and listened to the lullaby of Broadway on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as MHS invited the community into the stuff dreams are made of in “42nd Street.” Full of big dance numbers, comedy and the talents of the company, we were thoroughly delighted to meet all those dancing feet of “ 42nd Street!
The stage opened with Andy Lee, the dance director (beautifully portrayed by choreographer Katie Adkins), auditioning kids for the chorus. While Olivia (Susan Cubbage), Mac (Kirsten Wilford), the stage manager, and Billy Lawlor (charismatically brought to life by Cole Johnston), the show’s romantic lead, watch the young hopefuls “pick ‘em up and lay ‘em down.”
The writers, Bert Barry and Maggie Jones (Ashton Doyle and Katelynn Mellott), catch the end of the number, and like what they see, but warn that the audience is going to want to see real hoofing.
Young Peggy Sawyer (endearingly portrayed by Gabrielle McGarvey) bounds on stage after spending an hour getting up the courage to try out and missing the whole audition. She is encouraged to sing her first notes on Broadway for Andy by Billy who is interested more in dating the pretty Miss Sawyer. With her goodluck scarf around her neck she does well, but is rushed out as Mr. Marsh (masterfully played by Nick McClure) arrives.
Bert and Maggie try to soft-soap Julian about the prospects for the show, but he is not that sure, admitting the depression is weighing heavy on him and he needs a hit badly. He has more qualms about the cast, especially Dorothy Brock (wonderfully portrayed by Emily Wenschhof), the leading lady, who has been over the hill for 10 years. But her sugar daddy, Abner Dillon ( comically portrayed by Josh McKelvy), will invest $100,000, providing she stars.
Peggy comes back and is seen dancing with Maggie and some of the chorus girls and is hired by Andy and Mr. Marsh to join the chorus. Peggy faints during her first number and is carried to Miss Brock’s dressing room. Pat Denning, Dorothy’s former vaudeville partner and lover ( aptly played by Larkin Shearer), is there and tries to make her comfortable. Dorothy surprises them and blows up, figuring he’s two-timing her.
Overhearing the argument and worrying about Abner’s investment, Julian orders her to get rid of Pat. When she in turn tells him to mind his own business, he has a “ thug” (Doug Seiders) persuade Pat to get lost for a few weeks. Pat gets the “message” and leaves word for Dorothy that he’s gone to Philadelphia. The Atlantic City tryout is cancelled and Philadelphia substituted. The entire company takes off for the Arch Street Theatre.
It’s a great opening for “Pretty Lady” until Peggy accidently knocks Dorothy down and Dorothy breaks her ankle. The whole show is on the brink of disaster when Julian is convinced by “Anytime” Annie (portrayed by Emily Watkins) that Peggy can be the lead. Julian rehires Peggy, as the lead, and the whole production moves to New York, at the 42nd Street Theatre. The show is a smash. Miss Peggy Sawyer is an overnight sensation – a star. The director, back on top, sings of the glory of 42nd Street!
Erica Sexton completed her first production with MHS as director. Erica spent the previous five years as costume designer for productions. She is to be congratulated for providing the community with a wonderful theatre experience through her devotion to the students and production crew. Her experience in theater was evident in her ability to cast students in roles most suited to their personalities and talents. Her ability to charm audiences through the variety and difficulty of the scene sequences is commended as the story was carried forward and the talented young actors showcased brilliantly.
Noreen Mann continued to show her devotion to the cast and crew as music director. She and the orchestra, made up of Carolyn Kerlin, Larry Stepler, Dennis Clawson, Phil Debski and Debbie Reed, provided the most impressive musical support. Noreen’s effort and selfless giving of her time allowed the director and production team to benefit from the talent of high school students. This year’s production was dedicated to Larry Stepler, percussionist, who is retiring from teaching at MHS at the end of this school year. His dedication and support has helped to make musicals a success.
Melissa Horton and Marjorie Sexton as costume mistresses were a wonderful accomplishment. The challenge to provide costumes for a variety of scene changes and sequences is one that they achieved masterfully. They are to be commended for their array of costumes, including the stunning flapper dresses of the tap dancers and the handsome tuxedos of the young men to the accessories that brought the characters to life.
Steve Walker, Susan Cubbage, Betsy Clippinger and Doug Seiders were masterful at transforming the stage into the NY Broadway District, the subway station, and various other scenes from Atlantic City to Philadelphia as the story of Broadway dreams unfolded. They are commended for their attention to detail, from the amazing subway sleeper cars and set pieces to props. MHS was fortunate to have Betsy Clippinger this year as a set design assistant for the stunning backdrops. With the support of individuals and businesses within the community for the pieces that brought authenticity to the stage, the production crew brought the story to life.
Choreographers Katie and Kristi Adkins were delightful at bringing the show to life through their intricate tap dance numbers and ensemble numbers. Suggested by previous MHS musical director, Cecelia Parker, MHS was fortunate to have such lovely and professional young ladies as a part of this year’s production.
This is Nancy Shearer’s eleventh year producing musicals. Nancy’s dedication to the students involved and professionalism toward the production crew as she works tirelessly behind the scenes shows her love of musical arts. She is attentive to details and ensures that all the final touches of the show are in place to reward audiences with wonderful performances.
The behind-the-scenes crew from hair stylists, makeup crew, lighting and spots, the maintenance staff of the high school, photographer, to the community and businesses who donated monetary support, each should know that they are appreciated by the fabulous performances given. Without their support, this musical could not happen.
“42nd Street” is Mc- Connellsburg High School’s 25th musical production since 1984 and is funded in part by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.