Jew Review: 42nd Street Dazzles at the Ordway

Aspiring showgirl Peggy Sawyer (played by Kimberly Immanuel) gets her big break in a musical and catches the eyes of Billy Lawler (played by Phillip Attmore). Photo by Paul Tate de Pool II

If you’ve ever had big dreams of success or still do, the storyline of 42nd Street, a musical-within-a-musical, is an inspiration. Wrapping up as an Ordway Original production on August 11, the Emmy award-winning Broadway hit is the story of a young, aspiring showgirl, Peggy Sawyer, who leaves Allentown, Pa., for a chance to make it big in New York City. She jumps from the chorus line to the lead role in the musical Pretty Lady after the show’s star, Dorothy Brock, is injured.

In this reimagined production, you’ll still find the toe-tapping, sing-along lyrics by Jewish artists Al Dubin and Johnny Mercer and music by Harry Warren, such as “We’re in the Money” and “Lullaby of Broadway,” — songs made popular by the 1933 movie that were adapted for the stage in 1980.

The Ordway tapped New York City-based director Michael Heitzman to create a version special for the St. Paul-based theater’s last Broadway series of the season.

Acclaimed tap dancer Jarod Grimes leads choreography and the cast is comprised of national and local talent.

“The new orchestrations and the rhythmic tap dancing are my favorite parts of the show because they are unique to this production,” ensemble cast member Noah Coon told TC Jewfolk. Coon, 20, was raised in St. Louis Park and performed numerous theatrical roles throughout the Twin Cities and North Dakota, including the Guthrie Theater, the Children’s Theatre and Park Square Theater since he was six-years-old. He now is a theater arts major in Chicago, entering his junior year at Roosevelt University.  He returned home this summer for this role in 42nd Street.

“I feel very fortunate to be in this production, not only because it’s so much fun, but also because I have learned and grown so much because of the process,” said Coon who has had leading roles in Oliver Twist and To Kill a Mockingbird. “I love getting to go on stage every night at the Ordway and dance the incredible new choreography with the amazing people in our cast.”

Other local talent includes Jamecia Bennett as Maggie Jones, Tyler Michaels King as Bert Barry and T. Mychael Rambo plays moneybags Abner Dillon. National talent includes TV star Tamara Tunie (Dorothy Brock), Tony winner Jarrod Emick (Julian Marsh), Phillip Attmore (Billy Lawler) and Kimberly Immanuel (Peggy Sawyer).

Remaining shows at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts are: Friday, August 9 at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, August 10-11 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Author Sheree R. Curry is an award-winning journalist and long-time TC Jewfolk board member. She lives in Maple Grove, Minnesota, where she raised sons to love the theater.