The corner of Market and Washington Streets, surrounded by west 4th and west 5th Streets, is Minnesota’s hidden gem.
During the recent Ordway Original production of “42nd Street,” the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts was Minnesota’s very own Broadway.
Walking out the Ordway’s doors, sitting directly across Rice Park is the elegant St. Paul Hotel and Condominiums. To the Ordway’s left is the castle looking historical Landmark Center. To the Ordway’s immediate right, is the St. Paul Athletic Club and a few feet further down on the same side of the street sits the historic St. Paul Library. It’s a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the theater district on the real streets of 42nd New York City.
The glamourous “42nd Street” set on the Ordway stage, however, immediately cast a spell, captivating the audience for the next two and half hours (plus intermission), thrusting them, toe tapping first, into the “42nd Street” scenes of the then and now.
The orchestra was hoisted on a second level of the stage, adding to the allure; the musicians bringing the streets below to life with the music and rhythm that encapsulates the rich sounds of the city.
The “new jazz-funk orchestrations and tap dancing” where the dancers displayed Olympic worthy athleticism through dance, clearly reflected the times in which we live. The costumes, scenery, the change of the settings, were a perfect blend and compliment to this new 21st century out-of-the-box tap dancing extravaganza rendition of timeless classic.
The star-studded diverse cast hailed from New York, Chicago and from right here in our hometown, the Twin Cities; led by Tony Award winner Tamara Tunie, who gave us a mesmerizing performance.
Tunie aka Attorney at Law Jessica Griffin in “As the World Turns” aka medical examiner, Dr. Melinda Warner on “Law and Order Special Victims Unit” could belt it out. Originally from Pittsburgh, Tunie is African-American with Native-American roots and is blessed with a voice and a presence that is magical. That is breath taking.
The audience cheered, laughed, hooted, whistled, jumped out of their seats. We were all swept away by the fresh take on the same message, “Don’t give up on your dreams.” In the case of “42nd Street,” a small town girl has dreams of staring in Broadway show. Through determination, grit and feet that did not quit, she recognized opportunity, seized it and tapped her way to stardom.
This Ordway Original was a revival in more ways than one … it was a reminder, an inspiration, for making dreams come true.
There is nothing more uplifting than a toe tapping, humming musical filled with optimism. We are so luck to have the Ordway Music Theater in our own backyard.