Next week (August 2002) ushers in openings of two musicals on Dallas stages: Dallas Summer Musicals presents 42nd Street, the 2001 Tony winner for Best Musical Revival, while Theater Three opens A Class Act, the musical biography of composer/lyricist Edward Kleban, who wrote the lyrics to Marvin Hamlisch's music for A Chorus Line.

In 1933, producer Darryl Zanuck teamed composers Harry Warren and Al Dubin to write songs for the Hollywood movie, "42nd Street," based on a novel by Bradford Ropes. The film starred Bebe Daniels, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler, with Ginger Rogers playing a chorus girl. The adaptation opened on Broadway in 1980, with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble and starring Jerry Orbach and Tammy Grimes.

42nd Street took Broadway by storm on opening night, earning the cast twelve standing ovation curtain calls. Then the drama behind the gaiety of this musical hit set in: Producer David Merrick stepped on stage, raised his hand to quiet the audience and announced: "Gower Champion died this afternoon." The audience was numb with shock as they silently filed out of the Winter Garden Theater. 42nd Street won a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for Champion in 1981 for Best Choreography.

This is an old-fashioned, backstage musical-within-a-musical about two writers producing their own tuner, which is being staged by Julian Marsh, "the greatest director on Broadway." He can't fire Dorothy Brock, the over-the-hill leading lady, because her boyfriend is a major backer of the show. Marsh, who has been wiped out on Wall Street, desperately needs a hit. During out-of-town tryouts in Philadelphia, Peggy Sawyer, the young ingenue, is accidentally pushed into Brock, causing her to fall and break her ankle. Brock, in a fit of pique, has Sawyer fired by Marsh who announces the show is canceled. As the cast try to cheer each other up, they persuade Marsh to find Peggy and put her in the lead, since she knows all the routines. And in true showbiz fashion, the ingenue saves the show and becomes a star. Among all these happenings, we get an inside glimpse into the trials and tribulations of mounting a Broadway show, with all of those fabulous songs including "About A Quarter To Nine," "Shuffle Off To Buffalo," "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me," "I Only Have Eyes For You," "We're In The Money" and the title song, "42nd Street."

42nd Street runs August 20-September 1, 2002 at The Music Hall at Fair Park. For times and prices call 214-421-5678 or visit www.dallassummermusicals.org. DSM box office is located in the NW quadrant of Preston Royal Shopping Center at Preston Road and Royal Lane next to the Post Office.

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Theater Three begins previews of A Class Act August 22, 2002. Those incredible Siamese twins in T3s recent production of Side Show (Jennifer Freeman and Julie Stirman) have been separated to appear in A Class Act, along with Candace Evans, who put on a superb performance belting songs at Theater Brookhaven's Spring 2002 production of A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine; T3 favorite Doug Jackson as Ed Kleban, the shows subject; and Kyle McClaran as Kleban's gay, Southern, Jewish friend, Lehman Engle.

A Class Act chronicles the life of Ed Kleban, lyricist for A Chorus Line, his only hit, although he wrote over 100 songs. He willed his songs to friends who gained possession of them upon his death in 1987. Kleban's long-time companion Linda Kline, and another friend, Lonny Price, teamed to write Kleban's musical bio. It premiered in October 2000 at the Manhattan Theater Club, featuring Kleban's heretofore unpublished and rarely-performed songs.

As an added plus, Theater Three's production is being directed by Michael Serrecchia, an original cast member of A Chorus Line.

A Class Act runs August 22-September 28, 2002. 2800 Routh Street in the Quadrangle. For times and reservations call the T3 box office at 214-871-3300.

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Key Subjects: 
42nd Street, A Class Act, Dallas Summer Musicals, Theater Three, Ed Kleban, Gower Champion
Writer: 
Rita Faye Smith
Date: 
August 2002
Subtitle: 
42nd Street & A Class Act