REVIEW: You can’t beat the dancing feet of ‘42nd Street’

Photo by Todd Higgins (

Photo by Todd Higgins (

It took about a minute for the opening night audience to burst into applause at the dancing in 42nd Street. In fact, director and choreographer Michael Matthew Ferrell’s dancing extravaganza at the Playhouse had the audience repeatedly breaking into applause during virtually every number.

Julian Marsh (a delightfully bombastic Drew Autio) is directing a new musical. I have no idea what “Pretty Lady” is about, but that hardly matters. 42nd Street does not have a plot so much as it does a mythic checklist of Broadway tropes — fading star, neophyte ingénue, sugar daddy, show must go on, etc. — absolutely none of which matter when everybody starts dancing up a storm.

In her Playhouse debut, Shinah Brashears is young Peggy Sawyer, fresh off the train and able to kick her right leg straight up into the air at a moment’s notice. Tenor Billy Lawlor (Matias Valero) repeatedly offers to be her boyfriend, but Peggy’s got some dancing to do, which is how Brashears wins our hearts. She also has a hysterical scene when Marsh gives her a line reading.

Every one of Ferrell’s dancers had moments down front, and he was perfectly willing to have his strongest dancers take turns in the back row or on the sides, which speaks volumes to me. The quartet of Brashears, Burns, Jessie Albritton and Nicole Sippola was nicely featured in several numbers, most notably “Go Into Your Dance.”

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Photo by Todd Higgins (

Photo by Todd Higgins (

This review originally appeared in the April 22, 2016 print edition of the Duluth News Tribune and was written by Lawrence Bernabo.



What: 42nd Street
Where: The Duluth Playhouse (506 W. Michigan Street)
When: April 27 – May 8, 2016
Times: Wednesday – Saturday @ 7:30pm, Saturdays & Sundays @ 2:00pm
Tickets: Online at or call 218.733.7555
Ticket Prices: Adults – $30, Youth/Students – $25, Groups (15+) – $25
Questions: Call 218.733.7555