News Column

Modesto Performing Arts brings '42nd Street' to the Gallo Center

August 1, 2013


Aug. 01--The iconic image from the show is the curtain partially rising to reveal dancing feet on a stage. A classic backstage musical, "42nd Street" celebrates all things Broadway and the actors who make the magic happen.

Modesto Performing Arts is presenting the show Aug. 10-18 at the Gallo Center for the Arts with a cast of 50 plus an orchestra. The group's last staging of the production, in 2003, was named best musical production of the year from the Sacramento Area Regional Theater Alliance.

Curt Nelson, who is reprising his role as director Julian Marsh, said this year's show is just as exciting as the one a decade ago. "I suggest people go to the first weekend because they will want to come back," he said.

Based on the 1933 film of the same name, "42nd Street" tells the story of chorus girl Peggy Sawyer who gets her chance at stardom in a musical after the lead actress breaks her leg during the show's tryout. Songs include "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," "Dames," "We're in the Money," "Lullaby of Broadway," "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and the title song.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1980 with choreography by Gower Champion, who died of cancer the afternoon before the opening performance. It went on to win Tony Awards for best musical and best choreography.

"It's one of our most popular shows," said Modesto Performing Arts director Paul Tischer. "I think the audience goes out on a terrific high. You come out feeling good and excited about life."

The show is costing the 46-year-old musical theater company $80,000, an expense Tischer says is well worth it. The production features elegant Depression-era costumes from Los Angeles and elaborate sets.

"You can't not like it," Tischer said.

Two Actors Equity members from New York -- Katie Johannigman and Zak Edwards -- star as the leads. Johannigman said she is thrilled to have her first shot playing Peggy Sawyer. "It's every musical theater girl's dream," she said.

Edwards, who plays lead tenor Billy Lawler, has been in the show four times and never tires of it. The show reminds him of why he loves musical theater. "I would happily be in it over and over," he said.

Lorinda Ochinero plays over-the-hill actress Dorothy Brock and Michael Creasy and Teresa Berry play musical writers. Debbie Holtzclaw is the choreographer, Matt Cover is the orchestra director and Noble Dinse is the set designer.

Tischer said the audience is in for a high-energy production. "It's a million volts of electricity throughout the show."

WHAT: Modesto Performing Arts' "42nd Street"

WHEN: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 10, 2 p.m. Aug. 11, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 17 and 2 p.m. Aug. 18. Post-show reception in the lobby with the cast at 10 p.m. Aug. 10

WHERE: Foster Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto

TICKETS: $27-$39 for show. $25 for Aug. 10 reception

CALL: (209) 338-2100 ONLINE:


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