The steady click of tap shoes drowned out screeching tires and car horns as Mayor Jim Gray honored the birth of a new theater company Monday morning at Broadway and Short Street.
Or, should we say, Broadway and 42nd Street.
In honor of The Lexington Theatre Company's production of the classic musical 42nd Street, Short was temporarily renamed for the title of the show. Tony Award-winning lead actress Karen Ziemba received a key to the city, and Gray declared that July is Lexington Theatre Company month in Lexington.
The occasion is the inaugural production of the company, which is the first in recent memory to bring in professional actors, primarily from New York, to lead a cast including area community actors and student actors from colleges in and outside of Kentucky. The directors, Lexington native and Sayre School graduate Lyndy Franklin Smith and her husband, Jeromy Smith, created the company based on their experiences on Broadway and in Wichita, Kan.
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And that's why the company is getting the official treatment, Gray said after the event, which included a tap-dance number by the whole cast.
"Lyndy and Jeromy represent what we dream of for our young people, that they will go elsewhere and do great things, and then come home and do something here," Gray said. "They have really used their connections in the entertainment industry to make their dreams come true here."
The production started rehearsals last week with its student ensemble, culled from auditions in Lexington, Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Oklahoma City, where both Smiths went to college in the prestigious musical theater program at Oklahoma City University.
Rehearsals with the professional actors began Monday and will continue through next week. The show opens July 23 at the Opera House, with five performances through July 26.
In future summers, the Smiths said, they hope to increase the company's offerings to as many as three shows a summer.