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Show Palace's eight-week run of '42nd Street' starts March 4

Scott Daniel, as Billy Lawlor, is surrounded by dancers Michelle Alagna, from left, Roberta Hoag, Rachel Perin and Megan Morgan.

Christine Jarque Photography

Scott Daniel, as Billy Lawlor, is surrounded by dancers Michelle Alagna, from left, Roberta Hoag, Rachel Perin and Megan Morgan.

A Broadway classic and two-time Tony winner, first for Best Musical in 1980, then for Best Musical Revival in 2000, the toe-tapping 42nd Street will open March 4 at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre for an eight-week run.

Company manager Susan Haldeman calls the show "musical comedy at its finest."

Indeed, the production has an audience-pleasing plot with a happy ending and some of Broadway's best-loved tunes: You're Getting to be a Habit with Me, About a Quarter to Nine, Lullaby of Broadway, We're in the Money, and, of course, the rip-roaring title tune to accompany a rip-roaring dance routine.

Former New York City dancers Chris and Shanna Sell (now owners of Sell's Broadway Dance Company in New Port Richey), who met and married while in the national Broadway tour of Cats, are choreographers for the show, which is heavy on big production numbers and lots of tapping.

It's the second time around for the show at the Show Palace, the first being in the fall of 1999, two years before the theater joined Actors Equity Association, the gold standard for cast and crew, and began recruiting performers from New York City to Los Angeles to Orlando.

Despite some serious flaws, that first production was popular with local audiences and was the theater's second best-selling show during its first three years in operation.

Fast-forward to 2011 and a decade-long membership in Equity, and the audience will get a show filled with union performers and behind-the-scenes production staff, which could make a tremendous difference.

In it, young and naive dancer Peggy Sawyer (Tiffani Denae Robbins, in her first lead role at the Show Palace) arrives in the early 1930s Big Apple from Allentown, Pa., intent on a career on the stage.

As Andy Lee (Shain Stroff), the dance director for the big, new Broadway musical Pretty Lady, holds auditions for dancers, Peggy hangs around the stage door, too shy to go inside, and misses her chance.

The romantic lead of Pretty Lady, Billy Lawlor (Scott Daniel, Bud Frump in How to Succeed), spots Peggy and is smitten, but he can't talk the notoriously tough producer Julian Marsh (James Middleton, Bert Brat in H2$) into letting her do a late audition, and Peggy flees in embarrassment.

Julian is worried about the show's success, mainly because his female lead, Dorothy Brock (Jan Leigh Herndon, title roles in Mame and Kiss Me Kate) is getting a little long in the tooth. He has to keep her in the show, however, because her sugar daddy, the big-talking Texan Abner Dillon (Rick Kistner, J.B. in H2$), is bankrolling the show.

The show's writers, Bert and Maggie (Pete Clapsis, Mr. Wombley in H2$; Melanie Souza, Mid-Life, the Crisis Musical), assure Julian everything will be okay.

Moments later, Julian sees Peggy dancing for some new pals, is smitten, and decides to make room for her in the show.

Peggy is, of course, destined for stardom, but how that happens is what the show is all about.

42nd Street started out in 1932 as a novel and was made into a movie in 1933, but wasn't turned into a Broadway musical until 1980, at the pinnacle of a nostalgia craze. It ran for nearly 3,500 performances and was revived in 2000, when it ran for another 1,500-plus performances. It opened in London in 1984 and, in a twist that mirrored the plot of the show, launched the career of Catherine Zeta-Jones, who was a member of the chorus who had to take the lead role on a fateful night when the show's producer was in the audience and both the star and her understudy were ill.

>>If you go

'42nd Street,' a musical

Where: Show Palace Dinner Theatre, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson

When: Matinees and evenings March 4 through April 24

Tickets: Dinner and show, $48; show only, $36.95, plus tax and tip; 12 and younger, $28.45 and $23.45. Call (727) 863-7949 in west Pasco; toll-free elsewhere at 1-888-655-7469.

Show Palace's eight-week run of '42nd Street' starts March 4 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 3:36pm]

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