Webutuck High School presents amazing theatrical talent. Their school production of the 1980 Broadway musical 42nd Street has more class than political debates and more entertainment than anything you might find on the idiot box, despite the fact that plot and songs remain about as exciting as a poorly baked cupcake with sugar icing that hurts your teeth. The excitement resides in the singing, dancing, superb direction and choreography by Nancy Gagne.
Deanna Koski possesses a soft, impassioned voice that hits your heart, Cassandra Whitehead can sing, dance, and act with spectacular intensity, and James Wheeler puts in a bravura acting performance. The supporting roles are mesmerizing with Abby Hoke and Via Masina, as well as Bert Barry and Billy Lawlor.
Crowds of undergraduate actresses professionally hoof it up to the roof in tap shoes. For several of these actors, this will be their last performance at Webutuck, as they go on to greater things beyond the local. A few of them may have a future in professional acting.
More impressive than anticipated was the large pit orchestra under the able direction of Jay Bradley and Eric Wiener. Vocal director Lee Stowe has coaxed the marvelous from throats of students in clear diction. There were a few minor mike glitches on opening night, yet I’m sure they won’t occur for Saturday and Sunday performances.
This is a play about acting on Broadway during the Depression. While the play conjures a threadbare vanished world of desperation, there’s an aura of dignity that we as a society may have lost. Despite the triteness of many lyrics, the magic of exhilarating acting transcends the genre. Beneath the surface of superficiality, the wisdom of ambition and determination offers a rugged wisdom. A few songs from the Broadway production were cut, yet this production supplies over two hours of fascination.
These student performances are contagious, nervy, exhilarating. It is simply the best show in town at token prices: $12 for adults, $8 for seniors, and $4 for children 11 and under. For reservations call 845-373-4108.