Rehearsing TriArts’ ‘42nd Street’

“The Red Shoes,” 1948’s gorgeous, technicolor film about ballet, choice and tragedy inspired little girls to strap into toe shoes. Not any more. Now it’s the Broadway musical “A Chorus Line” that turns young people on to the power and glory of dancing on a stage. Among those smitten by that musical about Broadway “gypsies” was Kate Vallee, dancer, Rockette member, teacher and, right now, choreographer for TriArts’ “42nd Street,” opening June 23 at the Sharon Playhouse. “I was the little one dancing in the aisle while my older sister was performing on stage,” Vallee tells me after rehearsal. “I knew really early it was my dream.” Then she saw “A Chorus Line” and that did it. Friday afternoon, Vallee is working with Rachel Perin from Ohio (who got her part here via a YouTube video), and Jenny Piersol, “originally from Pennsylvania, now New York City” where she auditioned for a leading role in this show. In tap shoes with high heels and cute rehearsal garb (Perin sports a Batman logo, Piersol, a big silky gardenia), eyes glued to a vast mirror in the Bok Gallery, the dancers follow Vallee’s words and moves. Then Vallee works with the young men. She tells them to dance as though “light were reflecting from their chests,” making them look “masculine and debonair. Like Fred Astaire.” “Feel that line,” she tells them. “I want energy like ballet.” But this is definitely tap: throbbing, clipped, crackl-ing, breathtaking tap. “It’s part of being a musician,” Vallee says about this dancing. “Your feet are your instrument.” As for “42nd Street,” the story of a newcomer tapping her way into the big time on Broadway, “It’s very inspirational for ensemble dancers.” For anyone, really. “42nd Street,” with D.J. Salisbury, director; and music director Michael Berkeley, opens at TriArts’ Sharon Playhouse June 23 and runs through July 10. For tickets, 860-364-7469.

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