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October 18, 2002 - Image 89

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-10-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Grand Open ii

Bramble wrote the book for the show's
1980 debut. Bramble directs the cur-
rent production, with Randy Skinner
as choreographer.

Al Dubin

The music was created for the 42nd
Street movie by a couple of journey-
man Warner Bros. tunesmiths — a
Catholic with three long Italian names
shortened to Harry Warren, and portly
Al Dubin. Their combined careers
spanned six decades.
Warren and Dubin wrote "We're in
the Money," "You're Getting To Be a
Habit With Me," "Lullaby of
Broadway," "I Only Have Eyes for
You," "About a Quarter to Nine,"
"Shuffle Off to Buffalo" and the title
number, danced down a flight of
steps. With other lyricists, Warren
later wrote "Chattanooga Choo
Choo," 'Atchison, Topeka & the Santa
Fe" and "You'll Never Know."
Dubin's family fled the anti-Semitic
Russia of the late 1800s to Switzerland,
where he was born, then to America,
where his father became a doctor and
his mother, a science teacher. Young
Dubin cut classes to see musical shows,
and completed high school in a private
seminary — hardly appropriate for a
Jew. But his love for alcohol, girls and
partying resulted in his expulsion a few
days before graduation.
He sold his first successful song at
age 25, but always seemed to be in
debt -- often selling lyrics for $25-
$50. He wrote "Among My Souvenirs"
on the back of a utility bill and sold it
to get some quick cash for a stake in a
poker game. Dubin teamed up with
Warren in 1932 and they penned 60
hit songs over six years, mainly for
Warner Bros. movies. Dubin later col-
laborated with other composers,
including Victor Herbert, and died in
1945 of barbiturate poisoning at age

ribk Motoe

Belcher, to form a popular
husband-and-wife dance duo.
As the curtain came down
on 42nd Street's opening night
in 1980, the cast, crew and
audience realized they had a
smash hit, mainly because of
the exciting tap dance num-
bers. As is often the case in
Broadway musicals with sim-
plistic plots, the dancing once
again had stolen the show in
what critics agreed was an
"old-fashioned dancing specta-
cle." But producer David
Merrick stunned everyone by
announcing that Champion
had died that afternoon of a
rare blood cancer. He received
a Tony Award posthumously.

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Tap Dancing

Mon.-Sat. 11-10 • Sunday 11-9

Blair Ross plays Dorothy Brock, the aging
leading lady.

With speed, agility and
improvisation, the precise, per-
cussive footwork of the tap
dancer has dazzled audiences
for generations and is now more pop-
ular than ever.
"Tap dancing hit a low period sever-
al years ago as hip-hop and modern
jazz sort of took over, and tap became
a losing proposition in dance schools,"
observed Barbara Fink, owner of Miss
Barbara's Dance Centre in West
Bloomfield and Birmingham. Fink
started giving dance lessons in her
basement as a youngster and has been
teaching for almost 50 years.
"Tap made a resurgence in recent
years and is big again with youngsters
and adults ... especially what we call
rhythm tap, which was made popular
by dancers like Savion Glover and
Gregory Hines. Our students feel it's
`cool' again to take tap."
The dancers in the Masonic Temple
production range in age from 18 to
the mid-40s and go through the rigor-
ous production numbers for eight per-
formances a week. They "must take
good care of themselves and stay in
Gower Champion
shape," said Renee Rimland, 33, the
Jewish production stage manager for
42nd Street's original choreographer,
Gower Champion, firmly believed that the company.
"Physical therapy is an ongoing
dance scenes should tell a story that fit
experience for them because of the
the plot and be fully integrated into
the story line. He accomplished this in sprains and minor bumps and bruises
that occur throughout the run," she
42nd Street and his other Broadway
"I keep reminding them of the
shows and also as a director-choreogra-
real-life application of some of the
pher in many movie musicals.
lines in the production ... We have a
Champion was noted for his intense
show to do,' 'You'll be a star' and 'The
concentration and demanding
show must go on.'"
rehearsals. A native of Illinois,
Raised in the Kendall section of
Champion began dancing profession-
Miami, Fla., Rimland danced in musi-
ally at age 15, and later teamed with a
cals as a youngster and attended the
ballet teacher's daughter, Marge

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University of Pennsylvania and the
famous Juilliard School in New York,
studying stage management. She has
managed operas, ballets and many
Broadway musicals, including Les
Miserables, Phantom of the Opera,
Evita, Cabaret and Jekyll Hyde.
A devout Conservative Jew, she finds
it to be difficult observing the holidays
while touring, but she once arranged a
Passover seder in Greensboro, N.C.
"The few Jews in the crew and
many of the gentiles in the cast
attended to learn more about each
other and our various customs," she
Besides the dancers, the 42nd Street
cast includes Blair Ross as Dorothy
Brock, the aging leading lady;
Catherine Wreford as Peggy Sawyer,
the "star-is-born" character; and
Patrick Ryan Sullivan as Julian Marsh,
the tough producer — a role played in
the original Broadway production by
current NBC-TV's Law and Order
detective Jerry Orbach.


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42nd Street runs Oct. 22 through
Nov. 10 at Masonic Temple
Theatre, 500 Temple Ave.,
Detroit. Show times are 8 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday, 2 p.m.
Saturday-Sunday, and 7:30 p.m.
Sunday. $32-$69. Advance tick-
ets at Fisher Theatre box office;
Masonic Temple Theatre box
office on show days only, or
TicketMaster, (248) 645-6666.
Information: (313) 872-1000.

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