Pennwood Middle School is presenting 42nd Street on Friday, March 13, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, March 14, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the school auditorium, 1523 Makefield Road, Yardley. The show is directed by Matthew Snyder, and features 63 performers and 27 student crew members.
Snyder is a Spanish teacher in the World Languages Department at Pennsbury High School. He spends his off-hours performing in regional theater, primarily at the Broadway Theatre of Pitman, New Jersey. Snyder is directing his second musical theater production at Pennwood this year, having directed Aladdin, Jr. last year.
While 42nd Street is a challenge to direct, both for acting and choreography, Snyder feels it is “important for the students to get to know the classics,” like this show. There are 15 featured “tappers” in Pennwood’s production.
In 1933 New York, renowned director Julian Marsh is directing a show called Pretty Lady. Written by Maggie Jones and Bert Barry, Pretty Lady promises to be the biggest show Broadway has seen in years. Julian expresses his concern that Dorothy Brock, the leading lady, will not be able to handle the role due to her age and known inability to dance. It turns out, however, that Dorothy’s sugar daddy Abner Dillon is financially backing the show, and Julian must use Dorothy.
The production of Pretty Lady loses its booking in Atlantic City, but they are able to open in Philadelphia instead. The show opens and everything goes well until, in the closing number, newcomer Peggy Sawyer is pushed into Dorothy Brock, who consequently breaks her ankle. Julian fires Peggy on the spot and announces that with no star, the show has to close.
The cast rallies together to convince Julian that he made a mistake in firing Peggy and she should take Dorothy’s place as the lead. Julian catches Peggy at the train station and convinces her to take Dorothy’s role, although she will have to learn the role in 36 hours and open cold in New York. Pretty Lady opens in New York with Peggy in the lead and is a smash hit, guaranteeing the cast a job for the next two years.
Advance tickets are on sale March 9-11, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the school. All tickets are $10. Tickets will also be sold at the door prior to performances.