From the Great Depression to the Great Recession, the classic musical '42nd Street' still brings hope 

ce="10" vspace="10" width="200" />42nd Street
8 p.m. today-Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday
Lyric Theatre
Civic Center Musical Hall
201 N. Walker

Lyric Theatre continues its season with a timely production of the Tony-winning musical "42nd Street."

Based on a novel and 1933 film, the Depression-era story follows aspiring chorus girl Peggy Sawyer, fresh off the bus with hopes of starring on Broadway. Much to the delight of leading man Billy Lawlor and the chagrin of leading lady Dorothy Brock, Peggy soon finds herself in the midst of a hugely ambitious production titled "Pretty Girl," helmed by famed director Julian Marsh.

Lyric's production of "42nd Street" is directed and choreographed by Oklahoman Lyn Cramer, whose prestigious career spans three decades.

"The show was chosen to showcase the directing talents of Lyn, one of the best tap choreographers and teachers in the country," said Michael Baron, Lyric's artistic director.

Cramer has a long history with the show, going back to 1987, when she first played the role of Anytime Annie in a regional production. She went on to reprise the role several times over five years with national tours and in Houston with the original Broadway cast. She's since choreographed "Street" twice for other directors, and directed and choreographed it twice herself.

For Lyric, Cramer wanted to shake things up with a new approach to the material that was free of preconceptions and camp. Her first order was casting principals who hadn't played any of the roles before, making sure the actors were new to the material and had a fresh perspective.

Peggy and Billy are played by Lyndy Franklin Smith and Con O'Shea-Creal, both former students of Cramer's.

"It has been a joyful and heartwarming experience to have two of my extremely talented and hard-working former students, now professionals, command the stage and make me so proud," Cramer said. "Lyric audiences are going to fall in love with them."

In addition, "42nd Street" features dancers from Oklahoma City University, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Central Oklahoma, as well as performers from Edmond and Oklahoma City high schools. 

The local cast will be joined by Dan Sharkey as Marsh, and Barb Schoenhofer as Dorothy. Sharkey was last seen in Lyric's 2008 production of "Urinetown," while Schoenhofer played in last month's Lyric production of "Pump Boys and Dinettes."

"Lyric has always had a strong commitment to using a mix of local and national talent, especially those actors from the outstanding university theater programs in the Oklahoma City area," Baron said. "Oklahoma has a strong tradition of training top talent that often perform at Lyric before moving on to theaters across the country, and even Broadway."

Lyric was challenged by time while mounting "42nd Street." With just two weeks to prepare, Cramer is quick to praise her cast and crew. She described longtime collaborator and musical director David Andrews Rogers as "a master at his craft."

"Our production team is a walking miracle. I couldn't do it without them and my assistant choreographer, Amy Reynolds, is my right arm," Cramer said.

"42nd Street" gives audiences an opportunity to see a director at her best, working on material she "clearly loves," Baron said. "That kind of inspiration is rare and thrilling to watch through the amazing cast and crew." "?Eric Webb

photo Lyndy Franklin Smith, Barb Schoenhofer, Con O'Shea-Creal and Dan Sharkey star in "42nd Street." Photo/Wendy Mutz

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