MANCHESTER, NH – The cast of 42nd Street is ready to kick up their tap shoes and put their 21st century spin on a big musical within a musical – that’s a plot spoiler alert: 42nd Street provides a window into what it’s like to stage a show in grand style, and this one is considered the ultimate Broadway fairytale.
Dan Fenaughty, who plays Julian Marsh, is a New York City-based actor with national and regional experience. Despite his impressive resume, being part of a 42nd Street ensemble is a career first.
“In addition to me, this is our Peggy Sawyer’s first time, and our Dorothy Brock’s first time – and while we’re all familiar with the show, we’re really excited to put our own stamp on it,” says Fenaughty. “[Artistic Director] Carl [Rajotte] could have brought in any number of actors who’ve already performed the show, but we’re really honored to be the ones to bring it to the Palace audience.”
In the show, Fenaughty’s character is a notorious director staging a big production at the height of the Great Depression, with an assist from his co-writers, including Maggie Jones and Bert Barry. With just five weeks to mount the show, a series of unfortunate events – including a role-ending injury to the lead actress – creates a number of theatrical challenges they all must overcome.
Concord-based actor Marc Willis plays Bert Barry, a role which allows him to deliver some laughs.
“Bert and his partner Maggie provide a lot of the comic relief – they’re not romantically involved, but they are quite a duo, and solid characters in the show,” says Willis.
Willis’ character also gets to marry one of the young chorus girls in a campy song-and-dance number that gets to the heart of what classic entertainment is about, says Willis.
“I think that’s one of the things that makes a show like 42nd Street – the classic way it’s written – it engages the audience and sends them out the door singing a tune and tapping feet – whether they have rhythm or not,” says Willis.
Fenaughty says Rajotte’s staging will have the audience captivated as soon as the stage lights go on.
“I’m very excited for the opening – as far as I know Carl is going to do the whole curtain-up-to-shins thing, and then reveal an audition sequence, which sets tone and pace for the entirety of show,” Fenaughty says. “That will really shoot us right out of a canon, right from the beginning, and we’ll be off and running right up until the end.”
Willis agrees with Fenaughty on the opening fireworks, but is currently entrenched in perfecting the second half of the show.
“We are still in the process of putting this on its feet, so we’re yet to discover some of the things that will be crowd-pleasers, but personally, I’m looking forward to act two – my character gets to sing a number called ‘Shuffle off to Buffalo – which is silly and grand and goofy, and it should be a lot of fun,” Willis says.
At times like this, life imitates art – the actual cast and crew only have a few weeks to work out any kinks for the Palace production, says Fenaughty.
“With only two weeks to pull all of this together, one of the challenges is working with people for the first time. But what makes the process work so well is the team Carl has put together here at the Palace. They really know how to make it work and how to streamline the process and best utilize people’s time, and get the most out of the actors and tech crew,” says Fenaughty. “And they do a great job of making everyone look good – that’s how we can get a show like this up and going as quickly as we do.”
For any actor, there are certain shows that go down like meat and potatoes, and 42nd Street is one of those, says Fenaughty.
“It’s that timeless quality of a show like this one – it doesn’t matter if it’s taking place in the Depression or modern times, a good show with good songs and a plot driving toward something is always enjoyable. This is a perfect example of something that could be a great intro to theatre for someone who’s never seen a theatrical show live before. When you start with something more avant garde or less understandable you may lose them, and you may not have that audience member return,” Fenaughty says.
“This show is so classic, so well constructed, and so fun to root for the characters – and you get a glimpse behind the curtain, of what it takes to put on a really good show while putting on a really good show,” Fenaughty says.
Immediately following 42nd Street, which runs June 1 – 23 at the Palace, Fenaughty will catch the next flight out to Missouri, where he begins rehearsals for another opening, another show.
Willis will also be jetting out of town to Florida for hiatus before returning home to New Hampshire, where he will begin rehearsing for Mamma Mia at Winnipesaukee Playhouse, which opens July 26.
Reflecting on how good it feels to be working actors right now, Fenaughty says he and Willis are the lucky ones.
“It’s a bit of a luxury for most people to come out and enjoy a night at the theater, but the fact that we’re both fortunate to be working consistently – and performing here at the Palace – is a testament to good programming. If you program the right material people will come and see it, and that’s one of the Palace’s biggest strengths. They know what people want to see, and Carl hits it out of the park with 42nd Street.”
The Palace Theatre is located at 80 Hanover St. in Manchester. Tickets for 42nd Street are available online at palacetheatre.org or by calling the box office at 603-668-5588. Ticket prices: Adults: $39-$46 Children (6-12): $25
Show dates and times.
- Friday June 1, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday June 2, 2018 2 p.m.
- Saturday June 2, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday June 3, 2018 2 p.m.
- Friday June 8, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday June 9, 2018 2 p.m.
- Saturday June 9, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Sunday June 10, 2018 2 p.m.
- Friday June 15, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday June 16, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday June 16, 2018 2 p.m.
- Sunday June 17, 2018 2 p.m.
- Thursday June 21, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Friday June 22, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday June 23, 2018 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday June 23, 2018 2 p.m.