Living the Dream

Pulaski High School showcases dancers in ‘42nd Street’
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Peggy Sawyer, played by Autumn Rettke, smiles as she is complimented by Billy Lawlor, played by Geovanni Virella-Torres, in a scene from “42nd Street,” which is Pulaski High School’s 2018 musical. The show opens Friday and continues through Feb. 18. (Times Herald photo by Lee Pulaski)

Divas, lots of dancing and the pursuit of a dream make up the premise of “42nd Street,” which will be performed four times at Pulaski High School beginning Friday.

The annual musical will make use of some talented dancers and showcase the road to stardom in the 1930s. It is based on the novel written by Bradford Ropes, which the 1933 film was based on.

If the show is familiar to those in the Pulaski area, it should be — “42nd Street” was the first musical performed in the current high school building, which opened in 1999.

Amy Tubbs, the assistant director for the current production, pointed out that this show will be light years ahead of the 1999 show, which she was involved with.

“The biggest thing is our knowledge,” Tubbs said. “When we first moved into this building, we had never used a fly system. The lighting board was more complicated. The sound system and everything was more complicated. We didn’t know much.

“Everything still takes time, but at least we know what we’re doing.”

The show starts with Peggy Sawyer, who is seeking her first big break on Broadway, arriving late for her audition at a New York City theater. Although one of the other characters, Billy Lawlor, believes Peggy could bypass the process, she is promptly shooed away by the choreographer.

Peggy comes back to retrieve the purse she left behind and meets the other girls in the show. They invite her to join them for lunch, and Peggy demonstrates one of her dance routines, which is witnessed by the director, Julian Marsh. The director decides there might be room for Peggy in the show, after all.

The dream soon turns into a nightmare when Peggy is bumped into by another cast member during one of the performances, and she knocks lead actress Dorothy Brock to the ground, causing her to break her ankle. Initially, Peggy is fired after being blamed for the accident, but when no one else can be found to take over for Dorothy, Peggy is asked to return and learn her role in less than two days.

The musical features a variety of popular songs, including “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the title “42nd Street.”

The school chose “42nd Street” to take advantage of the dance routines. Last year, the school performed “Oklahoma!” where there was some tap dancing involved, and “42nd Street” has similar routines, according to Tubbs.

“The tap dancers were ready to tap right away and raring to go,” Tubbs said. “This cast is super hard working. They’re kind to each other and encouraging of each other. It’s the opposite of the show.”

Director Kathy Brown agreed that there were some talented dancers in the show. She noted that there is more dancing than anything else in “42nd Street.”

“This show fit the people we knew were auditioning,” Brown said. “We felt comfortable casting it based on the people who are available to audition.”

There are more than 100 students in the show, from the cast to the crew to the live orchestra. Brown encouraged the cast to look at videos on YouTube of the original film and other pieces from the 1930s to help them relate to the language, history and nuances of the era.

“It’s so much different than when I was directing it 20 years ago, compared to now,” Brown said.