ATLANTIC CITY — The summer can’t come soon enough for Atlantic City’s fortunes. As the local casino industry continues to battle the competition from neighboring states, the arrival of summer is always a major boost to Atlantic City’s fortunes.
Most casino business analysts say that the best way for Atlantic City to compete in the market is to do what the town can do better than any of the other nearby casino markets, provide top-notch entertainment. This not only includes major stars, but solid entertainment for mid-week visitors who want a night out to go with their value-priced non-weekend casino package.
The town is listening to its patrons and as a result there will be plenty of modestly priced musical entertainment available this summer.
Getting a jump on the official summer season are two excellent musical shows playing now, the Canadian import Best of Broadway at the Tropicana and the popular Broadway show 42nd Street, over at Resorts.
Leave it to a Canadian to put together a musical revue based on classic American musical theater. Best of Broadway, produced by Mario Bazinet (who also brought the hit Moonshine Follies to town), is a dazzling revue show that lives up to the title. Best of Broadway features top vocalists, including Follies’ stars Yoland Sirard, Karine Arsenault and Katee Julien, Broadway-quality costumes, a live four-piece band and athletic dancers presenting some of the top showstoppers from Broadway’s biggest shows over the years. This show has been so popular here, this is the fourth time it has been presented in town.
That same popularity has followed 42nd Street, which is visiting town for the third time. Like Best of Broadway, this show features excellent costumes, and talented singers and dancers. Both shows make the most of a limited budget compared to what it costs to mount a show on Broadway and the ticket prices reflect that, $25 and $35 for Best of Broadway, and $25 for 42nd Street.
42nd Street features such classic songs as “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Pretty Lady,” “Dames” “We’re In The Money,” “Shuffle Up to Buffalo” and the title tune. The show, based on the 1933 movie, first hit Broadway in 1980, produced by David Merrick, and earned the Tony Award for best musical, playing for 3,486 performances. It was revived on Broadway in 2001 and earned the Tony Award for best musical revival.
Since 42nd Street is a show, it contains a story, the old chestnut about the naïve singer/hoofer Peggy Sawyer (Johanna Schlitt) from the sticks who longs to become a Broadway star and gets her chance when the star of the show, Dorothy Brock (Carolyn McPhee) gets injured. The other star of the show is the gruff, but soft at heart producer, Julian Marsh (Rutledge Varley), who says to Peggy, “You’re going out there a youngster, but you’ve got to come back a star!”
42nd Street is set at a period of time, the early 1930s, when Atlantic City was a major tryout town for Broadway shows, so there is that added bit of nostalgia to bump up the fun factor. Best of Broadway has no book. It relies on an amazing string of great songs, remarkable recreations of original costumes (The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast in particular) and that talented cast. The songs include “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray; “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” and “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King; “Mamma Mia,” “Take A Chance On Me,” “Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo: from Mamma Mia and the title song from Phantom of the Opera. Best of Broadway features songs from a total of 18 shows, providing a little bit of the flavor of each.
Depend on whether you fancy seeing a ton of different music styles and costuming, or your taste runs toward a musical with a story, both Best of Broadway and 42nd Street deliver perhaps more than you would expect for the price. (See video and photo galleries at acweekly.com)
‘Best of Broadway’
Where: Tropicana Showroom
When: Now to June 29. Sun. 7pm; Mon. 8pm; Tues, Wed., 3:30 & 8pm; Sat., 9pm.
How Much: $25 and $35
Where: Resorts Superstar Theater
When: Now to July 3. Sun. 7pm; Mon., 8pm; Wed., Thurs. 3:30 & 8pm; Fri. 9pm.
How Much: $25.