Book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble
Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes
Music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Al Dubin
Directed by Robert J. Eagle and Cynthia Thole
Gower Champion's Choreography Recreated by
Thole and Susan M. Chebookjian
Musical Direction by Jeffrey P. Leonard and Julian Liu
 Reagle Players, 617 Lexington Street,  Waltham MA, through June 27

 Reviewed by G.L. Horton

The Reagle Players are celebrating their 30th anniversary by reprising the three most successful shows in the group's history: "Hello, Dolly!", "Crazy for You", and the season opener,  "42nd Street".  "42nd Street" makes a good opener, in that it is a stage-struck fable drenched in nostalgia, based on an old Hollywood movie whose premise is that in the depressed thirties a kid from nowhere with nothing going for her but talent and luck could star in a hit Broadway show.   That's always been the Players' ambition, too -- to star in a Broadway show.  And more -- without ever leaving their home town.   Many of the stage struck kids who began the group with director/producer Bob Eagle thirty years ago are still at it in the Waltham High School's Robinson auditorium, along with some of their own children and grandchildren (and lots of their neighbors') who, thanks to Eagle, have grown up to love theatre and learn its crafts.  The Players' sheer delight in performing is what makes a trip to the Reagle such a depression defying pleasure.    Clearly, they all agree with "42nd Street"'s Svengali of a director Julian Marsh about "The two most beautiful words in the English language: musical comedy."

From modest beginnings the Players have indeed reached the point where the shows they put on with local talent bear comparison with the Broadway originals.  This time out, there's one big brand name performer to set the tone, Jamie Ross.  Ross starred as Julian Marsh in the Broadway production of "42nd Street" for the last three years of its run. He was playing  John Hancock in the Broadway revival of "1776" at the Gershwin Theatre right up to "42nd Street's" tech week.   Ross is spectacularly good, his performance of the despotic and inspirational director buoyed up by the wide-eyed appreciation of the Walthamites, who are clearly thrilled to be on the same stage with him. There are eight other Equity ringers in the Reagle show, but except for Doug Okerson as the juvenile and Deanna Dys as a featured chorus veteran, the Equity performers are relegated to support.   The leading roles--  the tap-dancing wonder from Allentown Pa, Peggy Sawyer (Suzanne Cassidy), the wise-cracking character woman who is the lyricist for the show-within-the-show, Maggie Jones (Beth M. Martin), the Tin Pan Alley composer Bert Barry (Harold W. Walker) the older but not necessarily wiser Broadway singing star, Dorothy Brock (Marla Jenkins)  her supporting player boyfriend Pat Denning (R. Glen Michell) and her sugar daddy Abner Dillon (Roy Earley)-- are all played by Reagle regulars, amateurs with demanding day jobs (including pediatric surgeon!) and more or less ordinary suburban lives.

The wardrobe people must have to do a lot of stitching to get the gorgeous Theoni Aldredge costumes to cover the range of body types tapping out Gower Champion's Busby Berkley-inspired routines.  But they look good up there, tappers tall and not-so, slim and chunky, adolescents and senior citizens, framed by rented Broadway scenery that would dwarf anything less than a 100% effort, backed by a pit orchestra that really knows how to wail and lit by David Wilson with a wattage that demands million dollar smiles.  Led by Charlie Borden as choreographer Andy Lee, a hoofer well into his golden years who makes aging look like the increase of grace and agility, the chorus is the real star of "42nd Street" -- as it is of all the Reagle's celebrations of the American musical.