Audiences craving unbridled pizazz should race to “42nd Street” at the Carpenter Center in Long Beach. Musical Theatre West opens its 60th season with the indestructible backstager, and scores a toe-tapping triumph.
When it premiered in 1980, this stage adaptation of the landmark 1933 film based on Bradford Ropes’ novel made headlines over producer David Merrick’s opening-night announcement of helmer Gower Champion’s death. The show won the Tony Award, ran 3,486 performances, toured everywhere and returned in revised form in 2001, a hit all over again.
Yes, Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble’s book is only connective tissue between one Harry Warren-Al Dubin standard after another. The rental sets and costumes in Long Beach at best only echo Robin Wagner and Theoni V. Aldredge’s sumptuous originals.
Yet director-choreographer Jon Engstrom, musical director Michael Borth and a bravura ensemble -- headed by Damon Kirsche as martinet director Julian Marsh, Tracy Lore as imperious star Dorothy Brock and the marvelous Tessa Grady as starry-eyed neophyte Peggy Sawyer -- don’t let anything hinder their oomph.