Photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre’s production of 42nd Street, a splashy, spectacular musical romp featuring a cast and company of more than three dozen performers, opened last night at Riverhead High School.

The show marks RFCT’s return to the Charles A. Cardona Auditorium after mounting its last two annual musicals at other venues due to the auditorium’s recent renovation.

The Tony-award winning musical is about “1933’s newest show,” Pretty Lady, which is finishing up auditions in 42nd Street’s opening scene. Fresh-faced Peggy Sawyer, perfectly played by Erin McKenna, arrives from Allentown, Pennsylvania just as auditions conclude. One of the leads, Billy Lawlor (Bobby Peterson) is instantly smitten with Peggy and tries to wrangle her into the show, but Peggy’s awkwardness does not win points with director Julian Marsh (James Stevens), who dismisses her out of hand. He changes his mind after seeing her do a dance routine at a local club and Peggy’s admission to the chorus would set the stage for the show’s turnaround after its leading lady, Dorothy Brock (Marion Stark), a star considered by many in the cast to be past her prime, breaks her ankle.

Stevens and Stark turn in convincing performances as pre-eminent Broadway figures on the verge of eclipse — who prove on stage that they’ve still got what it takes to make a show successful.

The show offers up one energetic and engaging dance number after another, with stellar performances by both McKenna and Peterson backed up by a terrific cast and company. Impeccable choreography and perfect timing from a large cast on stage — not to mention the glitzy, beautiful 1930s-era costumes — combine to make 42nd Street an absolute pleasure to behold.

The 11-piece orchestra under the direction of Marguerite Volonts brings the score by Harry Warren (music) and Al Dubin (lyrics) to life.

The costumes, the set, the music, the dancing…I dare you to sit through this one without smiling and tapping your feet.

It’s hard to imagine a more ambitious project for a community theater company to mount, but Riverhead Faculty and Community Theatre not only pulls this one off, they do it with style and sophistication to match the effort of any professional troupe.

So by all means: “Come and meet those dancing feet…on the avenue I’m taking you to…42nd Street!”


Performances Saturday, Nov. 7 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 8 at 2 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13 and Saturday Nov. 14 at 8 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.. Tickets are $20 at the door. Advance ticket sales for Nov. 13, 14 and 15 online ($16)

Proceeds of the show support scholarships for local high school students.


RiverheadLOCAL photos by Peter Blasl and Denise Civiletti

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.