Musicals Tiny Little Town in Hollywood and 42nd Street in Long Beach

Theatre Movement Bazaar’s perfectly-matched, physical storytelling Tiny Little Town cast includes (back) Eddie Vona, Jesse Myers, Mark Doerr, Lamont Oakley, Joey Aquino, Isaiah Noriega, (front) Ishika Muchhal, Paula Rebelo, Kasper Svendsen, Prisca Kim. (Photo credit: David Haverty)

Theatre Movement Bazaar’s world premiere production of Tiny Little Town, a movement-based musical comedy with a definite political slant, is a very modern reimagining of Ukrainian playwright Nikolai Gogol’s 19th century satire, “The Government Inspector.” Utilizing TMB’s award-winning production style that merges dance, theater, and heightened physicality to create provocative storytelling, director/choreographer Tina Kronis and mechanical engineer/writer/filmmaker Richard Alger’s distinctive collaborative piece continues at the Broadwater Theatre Main Stage through February 18.

I was totally mesmerized during the entire two-hour production, one scene morphing to the next with each actor’s perfectly matched movements and harmonies highlighting not only the clueless characters but also America’s current upside-down political world. And what better way to forget the madness overtaking the media during this presidential election year than to sit back and laugh at the absolute absurdity of it all?

The story takes place in a small town in 1970s America which is thrown into chaos when its corrupt bureaucrats mistakenly identify a visiting stranger from Washington D.C. as an incognito Inspector General sent by the Federal Government to investigate their town, which of course is a place where hardly anything happens. (“A little bit of nothingness, nowhere.”) Led by their Bozo-haired mayor Anthony Rasmussen (Jasper Svendsen) who recruits the townspeople (Joey Aquino, Mark Doerr, Jesse Myers, Isaiah Noriega, Lamont Oakley, Eddie Vona) to offer monetary “gifts” to the so-called Inspector General (Nikhil Pai) “individually and in secret.” And, of course, the imposter is more than happy to accept every dollar offered to be able to buy a car to get him and his always-hungry accomplice Joseph (Nick Apostolina) out of town as quickly as possible before the real Inspector General arrives.

But if they have their way, the town’s women, including the mayor’s wife Anna (Paula Rebelo) and daughter Maria (Ishka Muchhal), as well as his press secretary Jackie (Prisca Kim) who, along with Joseph, imagines “A White Sand Beach” whenever the town’s stupidity drives her to an emotional breakdown, will do their best to keep the two strangers around for as long as they can – for their own very personal reasons – especially Jackie who wants to be given “a chance to make policy, not coffee.” You go girl!

The show is a hilarious and timely indictment of corruption and the insecurities of those who maintain their control through deceit and lies. Sound familiar? Then perhaps you’re ready to hang out at The Wit’s End bar in this Tiny Little Town and raise a glass to congratulate the talented cast and production team for this brilliantly-staged, funny and timely, filled with perfectly matched choreography musical comedy.  

Tiny Little Town with Book by Richard Alger and Tina Kronis, Music Composition by Wes Myers, and Lyrics by Richard Alger, under the eye-catching direction and choreography by Tina Kronis, continues through February 18 on Thursday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the Broadwater Theatre Main Stage, 1078 Lillian Way, Los Angeles 90038. There will be a Creators and Cast Talk Back following the Saturday, February 17 2:30 performance. Tickets are $22 general admission, $15 students/seniors at 

Quintan Craig as Billy Lawlor leads the ensemble in a rousing rendition of “We’re in the Money” in 42nd Street at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. (Photo courtesy of Musical Theatre West.)

Musical Theatre West is presenting the Tony Award-winning song and tap dance-filled backstage Broadway musical 42nd Street, with a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin, featuring some of the greatest songs ever written, including “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle Off to Buffalo,” “About a Quarter to Nine” and of course “42nd Street.” I guarantee this lavish production will tap its way into your heart at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center on the campus of Cal State Long Beach through February 25.

A hit from the start, the original production opened on Broadway in 1980, where it ran for nearly nine years. The show won 1981 Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Choreography, and the long-running Broadway revival, which opened in 2001, earned two Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. MTW’s engaging production features a wonderfully talented orchestra, directed and conducted by Wilkie Ferguson, with direction by Broadway tour veteran Cynthia Ferrer, who has played leading roles in over 100 musicals at major theaters across the country, with visually stunning choreography by Cheryl Baxter. Technical Director Kevin Clowes, Production Manager Catt Fox-Uruburu, and the entire backstage team are to be commended for coordinating such a big production to perfection, enhancing every moment in this stupendously intricate, classic Broadway musical. 

Based on Busby Berkeley’s 1933 movie, 42nd Street tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, a starry-eyed young dancer who leaves her quiet Allentown home for New York City to audition for Pretty Lady, a glitzy new Broadway musical. She joins the chorus, then inadvertently bumps into the legendary leading lady, Dorothy Brock, during rehearsal. When it’s discovered Dorothy’s ankle is broken, Peggy to get thrown out of the show. But because the leading lady cannot continue in the role, due to the ensemble members pushing for the ultra-talented newcomer Peggy to be brought back and take over the leading role, she is given a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take over the role when it moves to Broadway. And against all odds, she succeeds and becomes a star. And thanks to her saving the show, the ensemble dancers can stay off the breadlines in 1933 and keep their jobs, making Peggy an even bigger star in their eyes.

The production stars the always engaging Emma Nossal as the spunky, talented, tap-dancing newcomer Peggy Sawyer; Quintan Craig as the Pretty Lady lead actor/dancer Billy Lawlor who falls for Peggy; sophisticated Robert Mammana as Broadway producer/director Julian Marsh; and April Nixon as the aging leading lady Dorothy Brock who must step aside to let Peggy shine in the spotlight she was to occupy. Each time these four actors take the stage, the production soars.

With a cast of over 30 talented triple-threat performers, there are several whose enthusiastic stage presence focuses attention on their professionalism. Among them are Bree Murphy as Maggie Jones, Jamie Torcellini as Bert Barry, Jane Papageorge as Annie, Maggie Ek as Phyllis, Phillip Attmore as Andy Lee, Stephen Bishop as Pat Denning, April Lovejoy as Lorraine, Kevin Carolan as Abner Dillon, and Ricky Bulda as Mac/Doc/Thug.  

Along with the outstanding moveable scenic design by Bruce Brockman, costume designer Debbie Roberts and wig designer Anthony Cagliardi magnificently created so many flashy costumes (requiring multiple quick changes by the cast), with spectacular show props designed by Melanie Cavaness and Gretchen Morales adding a real “wow” factor to every number, all of which brilliantly dazzled the audience. Lighting designer Paul Black allowed us to see past the curtain to the conversations taking place backstage so vital to the action of the musical, and Julie Ferrin’s sound design mixed the music, tapping, and voices to perfection.

Musical Theatre West’s production of 42nd Street continues at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center (on the campus of Cal State Long Beach) at 6200 E Atherton St, Long Beach 90840 on select dates through February 25, with a special ASL-interpreted performance on Friday, February 16. Onsite parking is $10. Run time is two ad 30 minutes with an intermission. Tickets start at $20, available by phone at 562-856-1999 or online at Student rush tickets for $15 are available at the Box Office one hour prior to showtime, with a valid student ID. More information, a full line-up of performances, and additional details can be found at