When Broadway veterans and Central Kentucky residents Lyndy Franklin Smith and Jeromy Smith announced the creation of The Lexington Theatre Company, they promised musical productions that combined rising Broadway stars with local talent and student performers.
And that's what the cast list for the July 23 to 26 production of 42nd Street delivers: two Broadway veterans, a rising star, a Lexington stage favorite and student performers, some of whom will be familiar to hard-core Lexington theater fans.
42nd Street, the 1981 Tony Award winner for best musical, tells the story of a Broadway director's efforts to mount a lavish production at the height of the Great Depression and the many travails of his leading ladies.
Leading the cast is Matthew Shepard as the director, Julian Marsh. Shepard's credits include the Broadway productions of Beauty and the Beast and The Scarlet Pimpernel. He also played opposite Brooke Shields in Wonderful Town.
Broadway leading man Billy Lawlor will be played by Nicolas Dromard, whose Broadway roles have included Bert in Mary Poppins and roles in Oklahoma! and The Boy from Oz. Dromard just completed the national tour of Jersey Boys, in which he played Tommy DeVito.
Peggy Sawyer, the ingenue who is thrust into the spotlight, will be played by Darien Crago, who worked with Tommy Tune on the revue All Singing! All Dancing! Irving Berlin in Hollywood.
The Smiths said they saw Crago play Peggy in a 42nd Street production in New York. "She was amazing," Lyndy says. "Her sense of 1930s-style tap dancing was perfect, and she's such an engaging performer.
"We're really pinching ourselves that we got our group, with experience from tours to Broadway to regional theater."
One role to be announced is that of Broadway veteran Dorothy Brock. The Smiths said they are in the final stages of negotiating that contract.
Joining the leads will be Lexington stage star Robert Parks Johnson as Texas tycoon Abner Dillion. On local stages, Johnson has played a wide variety of roles, including the title role in Shakespeare's King Lear and Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. The writing duo of Bert and Maggie will be played by University of Kentucky theater graduates Michael Sheehy, who starred in the UK production Spring Awakening and has been working in regional theater, and Rachel Marie Snyder, who has been essentially UK's leading lady for the past two years.
The Smiths cast the ensemble through auditions in Lexington, Cincinnati and Bowling Green, and at Oklahoma City University, their alma mater, and they are supported by members of the theater's apprentice program, made up of students from area high schools.
The mix of Broadway and local talent extends behind the scenes. The Smiths will be the stage directors. The choreographer is Mary Giattino, whose credits include the Broadway production of White Christmas and national tours of Billy Elliot and 42nd Street. The music director is Bradley Vieth, a veteran of New York and Chicago stages, and national and European tours. He will collaborate with resident music associate Brock Terry.
The set and costumes will come from Music Theatre Wichita The Smiths worked there, and it inspired them to create The Lexington Theatre Company. Wichita produced the show last year, and a veteran of that theater, Joseph D. Sibley, will be the wardrobe coordinator. UK veterans Tony Hardin and Tanya Harper will be the production coordinator and lighting designer, respectively, and Opera House staffer John Ferguson will be the sound designer.
Rehearsals will start in early July.
It's a wide pool of experience.
"That's what theater is," Jeromy Smith said. "Bringing a group of people together to create something wonderful."