‘42nd Street’ takes the stage

Published 10:31 pm Monday, June 9, 2014

Hannah Markley and the rest of the cast rehearse for “42nd Street” at RPM Dance last week. (Tracy Agnew/Suffolk News-Herald)

Hannah Markley and the rest of the cast rehearse for “42nd Street” at RPM Dance last week. (Tracy Agnew/Suffolk News-Herald)

The invigorating musical “42nd Street” will hit the Suffolk stage soon with a cast that, though it’s made up mostly of teenagers, is sure to rival the Broadway stars.

The show runs Saturday and Sunday for two consecutive weekends at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. Featuring high-energy tap, graceful ballet, convincing actors and songs that everyone knows, the show is a crowd-pleaser, said director Renee Perry Mitchell of RPM Dance on Bridge Road.

“It’s high-energy, so young people enjoy it, but the music harkens back,” she said.

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The story focuses on director Julian Marsh, who wants to stage a Broadway musical during the throes of the Great Depression. A young hopeful, Peggy Sawyer, arrives late for auditions, but, through a series of mishaps, she winds up in the lead role.

Both the original 1980 Broadway production and its 2001 revival were multiple award winners.

“I’ve loved this show forever,” said Mitchell, a former Rockette. “My director with the Rockettes was the original front guy. I’ve waited to do this show until I felt like the time was right.”

Although a few local adults are cast in the show, the vast majority of the 50-person cast are teenagers, and some are even younger. But age doesn’t matter when it comes to how well they can dance and sing, said Michael Turner, the musical director for the show.

“For me, the level of professionalism is way above community theater,” Turner said.

Fourteen-year-olds Hannah and Logan Markley, two-thirds of a set of triplets, are two of the youngest cast in leading roles. She plays Peggy Sawyer, the late-arriving hopeful-turned-star, and he plays Billy Lawlor, who is already cast as one of the leads when she arrives and initially takes a romantic interest in her.

“There’s a lot of tapping and singing, and I really liked the character,” Hannah said about Peggy.

Logan, too, said his character is “really outward.”

Hannah Maconaghy, 18, said she is looking forward to making “42nd Street” her last high school show.

“I just like the concept of doing a show within a show,” she said. “It seemed like a big challenge to make the audience believe you’re in a show while you’re trying to put on a show. This is just a great way to end my last year of high school.”

Maconaghy’s not done with dance, though. She will attend Shenandoah University’s Conservatory for Dance in the fall.

“I hope to follow in Ms. Renee’s footsteps and be a Rockette,” she said.

Fifteen-year-old Brexdyn La Dieu plays Andy Lee, the dance choreographer of the show-within-a-show.

“I did a performance with them before, and I had tons of fun,” he said. The hardest thing about his role, he said, has been “learning all my lines and the dances while doing other stuff outside of this.”

Alyssa Romanelli, 17, plays the singer Dorothy Brock.

“She’s the diva, kind of the has-been,” she said. This is her first show with RPM Dance, but Romanelli has plenty of experience singing on the stage.

The show will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturdays, June 14 and 21, and at 3 p.m. Sundays, June 15 and 22. Tickets are $27.50 for adults and $10 for children. Get tickets at www.suffolkcenter.org or by calling 923-2900.