’42nd Street’ set to shuffle off into Huntington


Photo courtesy of the Marshall Artists Series.

Students at Marshall have been invited to “Come and Meet Those Dancing Feet” Saturday, Feb. 18 when the classic musical “42nd Street” comes to the Keith-Albee theater in downtown Huntington. Student tickets for the event have were made available at the end of January.

“42nd Street” is a hit musical based on the 1932 book of the same name, featuring memorable songs such as “We’re in the Money,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo” and more. The musical tells the story of Peggy Sawyer, who takes over the lead role in a Broadway musical after the leading lady is injured.

Playing the male leading role of Billy Lawlor in the production is Connor Coughlin. The young Canadian actor and graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet performed in musicals and plays before in his career “but never like this,” he said.

Coughlin said “42nd Street” marks the first time he has been on tour.

“It’s a challenge,” Coughlin said. “It’s hard to do a show eight times a week when you’re in the same theater, but it’s especially difficult when you’re in a new theater every night, or every three nights. You have to constantly be adjusting.”

Coughlin said he joined the Royal Winnipeg Ballet when he was 13, calling it an “interesting high school experience.”

Afterwards, Coughlin said he continued his study at Circle in the Square in New York.

“I had done a lot of dance and I’ve sung my whole life, but I wanted to learn how to act,” Coughlin said. “I knew I wanted to study in New York City. I wanted to go and continue my dance training as well and it turned out to be the perfect school for me and my skill set.”

Coughlin said for the role of Billy Lawlor, he had to train his voice more significantly more than previous roles. In the musical, Billy is a tenor.

“Billy’s voice sits much higher than mine does, so I need to work at that,” Coughlin said.

Alongside singing, “42nd Street” also contains tap dancing numbers, which Coughlin said he had been preparing for with the same regimen.

“Billy has a different way of dancing than I normally do,” Coughlin said. “I come from the world of ballet where people dance quite smoothly, where Billy is a lot punchier and bigger. It took me a while to learn how to dance with that kind of energy.”

“42nd Street” is directed by co-author of the book, Mark Bramble and choreographed by Randy Skinner, the same team that staged a Tony Award winning revival of the musical in 2001.

“I’ve never been in a production this lavish, so that’s exciting,” Coughlin said. “There’s huge, beautiful set-pieces and we’ve got a great orchestra. It’s exciting to be a part of something this big.”

Students with an ID can redeem a free ticket to the event at the box office located next to the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse.


Austin Creel can be contacted at [email protected]