LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – “Come on along and listen to the lullaby of Broadway,” when 42nd Street opens at the Viterbo University Fine Arts Center on October 12th. The Tony and Olivier Award-winning show celebrates Broadway, Times Square and the magic of showbiz with wit, humor and pizzazz.
The show follows the trials and tribulations that come with putting up a Broadway show in the 1930s. You’ll find the “fresh-off-the-bus” starlet getting her first big break, the experienced chorus girls having to keep each other together, the powers that be falling in and out of love with the actors and the show they are producing and everything in between.
With music and source material that dates back to the actual ’30s, this show has a lot of history to it and the cast is not only aware but excited about it. Senior theatre major, Maddy Ballard, plays “Anytime Annie in the show and when I asked her if it was exciting to do shows like this she enthusiastically said, “Yeah! I mean, 42nd Street is full of iconic moments in musical theater history.” Her co-star, junior theater major Spencer Curtis who plays Bert Barry, added, “We have paid a lot of respect to the history of this show while also offering our own version of the story.”
Neither Ballard nor Curtis are strangers to the Viterbo stage. They both have been on stage for 4 different university productions including Footloose, Beauty and the Beast, Measure for Measure and The Hello Girls. Ballard is also the Artistic Director for Viterbo’s Student Theatre Project. She says they will be releasing their Spring season of student-produced, acted, and run productions in the coming months.
Curtis said the reimagination of stories is what excites him and that shows like “Once” where the actors get to play and sing live music in the context of the show is the type of theatre he hopes to do in the future. Ballard loves a spectacle and the ability to dance and sing with ensemble storytelling. She made me feel like she hadn’t met a kick line she didn’t like.
The two said they were amazed by all of the individual parts of the 42nd Street production. Curtis explained, “The ensemble is amazing and hits every note. The dancing is out of this world. The costumes are beautiful and the set is incredible.” Ballard added, “We got to work with the orchestra for the for time last night and they are amazing.”
It’s no wonder this production living up to the high standards that the Viterbo Theatre Department has set for audiences. If you look through the production staff, it reads like an all-star list of the La Crosse theatre community. In the orchestra pit, you will hear Joe Gantzer, Beth Lakmann, and Greg Balfany among others. Kit Meyer is painting that beautiful set. Bryce Turgeon is building the costumes. And the list goes on and on.
If you don’t recognize these names, I promise you they are impressive people. Gantzer is a guitar player for the band TUGG (among others) Lakmann has played piano on every stage on this side of the state, Balfany IS jazz in Western Wisconsin, Meyer’s sets are award-winning and he was a founding member of the Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre in Fairbanks, Alaska. Turgeon is known, professionally, as Florence D’Lee and has built for Broadway shows like Fun House, Wicked, and Phantom, and his designs have been seen on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Drag Race All Stars, on red carpets all over the world and at Met Gala. And I haven’t even mentioned that the show is directed by Broadway actor/choreographer, and associate professor in Viterbo’s Conservatory for the Arts, Shane Rhoades. Suffice it to say that, once again, La Crosse theatergoers will be rewarded with a professional-level show right here in our backyard.
42nd Street opens October 12th at the Viterbo Fine Arts Center and runs through the 15th. Just one weekend, 4 opportunities to catch it before it makes like Bert and Annie and does its own “Shuffle of to Buffalo”. Curtis says it’s a show you won’t want to miss and Ballard says “You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hear amazing, recognizable songs and incredible dancing and choreography. 42nd Street can’t be beat.”
With that, I’m positive she hasn’t met a kick line she doesn’t like and neither have I.
- Broadway’s ultimate showbiz musical! At the height of the Great Depression, aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer comes to the big city from Allentown PA, and soon lands her first big job in the ensemble of a glitzy new Broadway show. But just before opening night, the leading lady breaks her ankle. Will Peggy be able to step in and become a star? The score is chock-full of Broadway standards, including You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me, Dames, We’re In the Money, Lullaby of Broadway, Shuffle Off to Buffalo, and Forty-Second Street. Music by Lyrics by Harry Warren, Al Dubin; Book by Michael Steward and Mark Bramble; Based on the Novel by Bradford Ropes and the motion picture 42nd Street owned by Turner Entertainment Co. and distributed by Warner Bros. 42nd Street is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Tams-Witmark LLC. www.concordtheatricals.com
- Viterbo University Fine Arts Center Main Theater
- October 12th-15th (7:30 pm Thu-Sat/2 pm Sun)