SCRANTON — Anyone familiar with the musical “42nd Street” will tell you Dorothy Brock is past her prime, a diva famous for her lack of dancing ability.
So, how does Kaitlin Lawrence feel about filling those over-the-hill tap shoes?
“We have an amazing ensemble, and compared to them, I just like to say I’m a passionate mover,” the singer/actor said, admitting with a laugh the choreography is designed to make Dorothy appear particularly lackluster. “It’s very minimal with a lot of step-touches.”
While Dorothy’s hoofing may be ho-hum, Lawrence said, the rest of the dancing — choreographed by the award-winning Randy Skinner — is phenomenal.
When the touring company arrives at the Scranton Cultural Center, it will be the cast’s 63rd city. “I still watch from the wings,” she said. “You get a visceral feeling from those taps.”
Audiences will love the dancing, she predicted, and they’ll also be thrilled by such recognizable songs as “Lullaby of Broadway,” “We’re in the Money” and “I Only Have Eyes For You.” That last number is one Dorothy Brock sings — at a moment when the character is heartbroken, vulnerable and perhaps more likable than when she’s busy living up to her diva reputation.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done with that,” Lawrence said. “It’s a 1930s-style song, and the way it’s written, less is more.”
The musical is set during the Depression and centers on a fresh-faced novice dancer named Peggy Sawyer who departs her hometown to try for a career on Broadway. One of the show’s well-known lines occurs in a scene when Peggy wants to go home and an incredulous producer says, “I’m offering you a chance to star in the biggest musical Broadway’s seen in 20 years and you say Allentown?”
That Lehigh Valley city is only 70 miles south of Wilkes-Barre, 90 miles south of Scranton. Has the “42nd Street” cast ever been there?
“We didn’t perform there,” Lawrence said. “But we did stop there for a lunch break and we were tickled. We all took pictures by the sign.”
In connection with the local performance, the Broadway Theatre League and NAC Entertainment have arranged to make a donation to St. Joseph’s Center Baby Pantry for every ticket sold if the purchaser mentions the password/code word “baby.”