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Toe-tappin’ musical hits the stage at Cumming Playhouse

POSTED: October 26, 2011 4:53 p.m.
Autumn Vetter/Forsyth County News

Autumn Morgenstern, lead dancer, performs a tap number with fellow cast members at the dress rehearsal for "42nd Street" at the Cumming Playhouse on Oct. 11.

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CUMMING — A big show is filling a small space at the Cumming Playhouse.

"42nd Street," one of the longest running musicals in Broadway history, began a three-week run Friday.

Produced by BK Productions, the same group that creates the annual "Georgia Senior Follies" show at the playhouse, "42nd Street" usually has a cast of about 50. Due to space, however, that number was cut in half for the local show.

But that won't impact the quality of the production, said director Honey Larsen.

"We've had to be creative with the casting, some people are playing multiple roles, and we've changed some of the roles that were originally male to female," she said. "But we have very talented people and we're very happy with the way the show is going."

Linda Heard, executive director of the playhouse, said she's also happy with "42nd Street."

She said she expects it to be one of the "best selling shows of the year."

"It is certainly one of the largest (shows done at the playhouse) with regard to the number of people in the production, the sophisticated music and dance scores, along with multiple costume changes," she said. "It will be quite spectacular."

To house the show's six-piece band, a new elevated bandstand was built at the back of the stage, Heard said.

Funding for the project came from a Forsyth County Arts Alliance grant awarded earlier this year.

"The perfect situation would have been an orchestra pit, but the size of the playhouse will not allow for that," she said. "We developed this idea using scaffolding, which can be disassembled after this show and used in many different ways."

The raised bandstand makes more room on stage for "42nd Street's" numerous dancers.

"This is primarily a dancer's show," Larsen said. "There's a lot of tap dancing in particular."

The production features a show within a show, set on Broadway in the early 1930s.

"There's a lot of juxtaposition between the bright lights of Broadway and what's really going on with the bread lines and everything after the stock market crash," said Ann Reilly, one of the show's dancers.

She said she's proud to be a part of the show, even though she has to drive about 40 minutes from her home in Midtown Atlanta.

"I'm a dancer and you don't have a lot of dance-centered shows like this," she said.

Producer Kathy Russell, whose husband, Bob, is leading the band, is also proud to be in the show. She portrays Kathy Brock, one of the show's female leads.

"It'll be great fun," she said. "It's a big show to put into a small venue, but with such talented people it has worked out well."

Heard added that the "story is one that audiences will enjoy."

"The many fantastic songs ... will have everyone singing in their seats," she said. "We guarantee they will leave the theater humming their favorite songs from this spectacular production."



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