Darien Crago and company in 42nd Street
(© AnnMarie Snyder)
Darien Crago and company in 42nd Street
(© AnnMarie Snyder)
With toe-tapping treats from the moment the curtain opens, a timeless score and story, and a first-tier caliber of talent, the exciting production of 42nd Street, now at the John W. Engeman Theater is simply not to be missed. Indeed, while 42nd Street may contain the "Lullaby of Broadway," the last thing this musical will do is put you to sleep.

Featuring a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, and a vintage score by Al Dubin and Harry Warren, the show is the ultimate Broadway fairy tale -- even in the era of Smash and Glee.

The story revolves around small-town chorus girl Peggy Sawyer (Darien Crago), who gets her chance to become an overnight star playing the lead in Pretty Ladies, the show-within-the-show, after its original leading lady is sidelined with an injury. Sure, the plot is often a bit farfetched, but disbelief is easily suspended in this entertaining production.

Crago shines as the naïve, initially klutzy Peggy, while Patrick Ryan Sullivan is delightful as deep-voiced, passionate director Julian Marsh, and Christianne Tisdale, whose singing voice is somewhat reminiscent of Bernadette Peters, plays washed-up diva Dorothy Brock with great humor and a sense of entitlement.

But it's the ensemble -- brilliantly choreographed by Melissa Giattino -- that takes center stage in this show, as this talented corps of singer-dancers never stop tapping, turning simple walks to lunch into pleasurable ditties, and tiny jaunts into slick little routines. Check out the compelling opening number in which the audience first catches the ensemble practicing a dance routine that sets the stage for the liveliness about to come.

Amazing production numbers such as "We're in the Money," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo," and the title tune are at the core of the action, and each one is astonishing in its grandeur. Nowhere is that more true than in "We're in the Money," as the large ensemble perform on large platforms designed to look like giant coins, tapping away madly throughout the song.

Keith Schneider's classy, exuberant period dresses and color-blocked dance shoes are coordinated perfectly during the many costume changes that take place. And Sonoka Fukuma Gozelski's sets are minimal, yet accessible, making it easier for director Mark Adam Rampmeyer to move his large cast around the all-consuming stage.