Martin Aviles got his start more than 20 years ago, when he appeared in such classics as "The King and I" and "42nd Street" at BroadHollow Theatre. After building a career as a performer, Aviles returns home to direct and choreograph one of his specialties -- having played nearly every male role in "42nd Street" on European and American tours.
Along the way, he learned a thing or two. That becomes apparent at the sound of the first foot tap at BroadHollow's BayWay Arts Center. Aviles' starry-eyed cast brings to life his cinematic vision of the 1980 Broadway musical inspired by the Busby Berkeley film of the same name.
Chris Dufrenoy sings and struts authoritatively as Julian Marsh, the grizzled director trying for a financial and artistic comeback with a musical called "Pretty Lady." He's hired a bankable star, Dorothy Brock, who's also a difficult, dance-clueless diva. Emily Nadler delivers a suitably clumsy Dorothy who nevertheless knows her way around a song like "I Only Have Eyes for You." But the heart of the shows -- both "42nd Street" and "Pretty Lady" -- is the hoofers. Heather Van Velsor as Anytime Annie and Lisa Brodsky as Maggie lead the "Dames" chorus, while Ryan Nolin (co-choreographer/assistant director) keeps them in line as dance captain Andy.
Lovestruck Billy, played by Bobby Peterson as if addled by hormones, only has eyes for the new girl from Allentown. That's Peggy Sawyer, a Broadway rookie who can (and does) dance circles around the diva. Erica Sloane Dollin has both the charm and chops -- not to mention the tapping feet -- to pull off Peggy's miracle. But she needs inspiration, which Dufrenoy provides in "Lullaby of Broadway."
As with most BroadHollow musical productions these days, there is no live orchestra. While the recorded score (better than most I've heard) occasionally seems incongruous -- especially when Julian Marsh says, "Twenty-five musicians in the pit are just waiting to work overtime!" -- it fits director Aviles' interpretation. Despite costumer-actor Ronnie Green's vivid choice of color for ladies' gowns, the show's prevailing motif is as black-and-white as the 1933 movie. Singing styles are from the Depression era, too. So when you find a dime on the street, "You're in the money." It's time to dance up a storm. And they do.
Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, music Harry Warren, lyrics Al Dubin
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, 2 p.m. Wednesday, BayWay Arts Center, 265 E. Main St., East Islip, through Dec. 2. Also, BroadHollow Theatre at Elmont, 700 Hempstead Tpke., Dec. 8-23
Elmont); broadhollow.org, 631-581-2700, 516-775-4420