I’m sitting in the theater Monday evening (last night) as The Paramount Orchestra is rehearsing under the baton of Conductor/Music Director Doug Peck. Maestro is swinging big time through the sensational, surprisingly jazzy score of 42ND ST. This is bigger than Big Band, folks! This is the sound of the grand, golden days of Broadway at its best! This is how it all began and cinched it; the guarantee Broadway is here to stay. No one can resist the rhythm, the syncopation, the tap dancing glory of a bygone era brought to heart pounding life right before your eyes. Makes ya grateful to be alive, happy just to be in the place. The title song, the dazzling production number at the show’s thrilling climax, roars and blasts out of the orchestra pit up to the Art Deco rafters of this 1930’s picture palace! What a match: 42ND ST. and Paramount Theatre! Just when I think it couldn’t be more thrilling, it happens again. Live Theatre will never die. It’s excitement is inexhaustible! Toe-tapping, finger-snapping, shoulder-shaking, head-bopping joy bringing this show out of the past into the hot blooded, pulsating present! Tech rehearsals this week meet challenge-after-challenge vanquishing unexpected setbacks and glitches. The sensation is: momentum is unstoppable. And that goes double for Director Rachel Rockwell charging ahead with this gifted, gorgeous cast creating a new legacy for this classic show. If you’ve never seen 42ND ST, and even if you have, you won’t believe your eyes, ladies and gentlemen. Set Designer Kevin Depinet, Lighting Designer Greg Hofmann, Costume Designer Theresa Ham, Sound Designer Palmer Jankens and Projection Designer Anna Henson have configured a world for this classic show biz tale combining traditional glamour with artful innovation. It is a tribute to the show’s time tested tradition how in the right hands it can feel so immediate and vibrant. Tammy Mader’s choreography lights up the stage almost leaping off it with electrifying rhythm and boundless energy with an expert chorus of beautiful young dancers giving it everything they’ve got. It’s overwhelming just how much they’ve got to give!
This afternoon is “wandelprobe” – the first time the cast sings with the orchestra and moves through the show. Every time, Dear Reader, I mean every time for all ten shows so far in Paramount’s Broadway Series, I watch as actors are moved to tears upon hearing the orchestra in full force for the first time. With a pit filled with A-list musicians and a stage filled with top notch talent doing what they’ve trained their whole lives to do, one gets a glimpse of musical theatre heaven. I’m telling’ ya folks, ya won’t believe your eyes and ears! Tonight, after the dinner break, everyone returns for the final (and only) full dress rehearsal before their first public performance at tomorrow’s matinee!
Meanwhile, I’m watching the clock as we progress set and sound and costume and light and projection cues…will we finish on time with all the elaborate details we’ve yet to complete? And by midnight tonight?! We’ll know the answer by the time you read this. But I can promise you by tomorrow “musical theatre heaven.”
RENT update: the casting is complete! More about this talented company in the coming weeks. To those who auditioned, thank you for being here and your generous contribution to the casting process. You are a huge part of the show’s development.
‘Til next time, my love & thanks, and my hope to see you over the next few weeks at Paramount’s sensational new production of 42ND ST.!