Candlelight theater dusts off a gem in ‘42nd Street’

Alex Miller
Special to the Daily
The musical comedy “42nd Street” plays through June 4 at the Candlelight Dinner Theater in Johnstown, Colorado.
RDGPhotography |

If you go

What: “42nd Street” musical comedy

Where: Candlelight Dinner Theater in Johnstown, Colorado

When: Through June 4


There’s a place in Colorado where the music almost never stops, the big set pieces get wheeled onto stage every night and a stream of professional actors finds a steady paycheck as they run through the great canon of stage musicals season after season.

The place is the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, located in Johnstown, north of Denver. It’s a bit of a trek, but if you like musical theater, then Candelight is becoming a mecca, attracting fans from Denver and the mountains as well as Cheyenne, Wyoming, and from the towns of northern Colorado.

Now in its ninth season, Candlelight is a well-oiled machine, where every night the actors double as waiters, then hit the stage in another professionally produced production. It’s worth the trip to see shows in this space specifically built for dinner theater and packed with season-ticket holders who come for every show.


“42nd Street” may look like something from the golden age of musical theater in the 1950s, but it actually debuted on Broadway in 1980, where it won a Tony Award for best musical. Based on the 1933 film, the action is set in Depression-era New York, where director Julian Marsh (David L. Wygant) is mounting a big, new musical called “Pretty Lady.” Fresh off the bus to try out is ingenue Peggy Sawyer (Lisa Kay Carter), however she’s too nervous to join the audition. But no matter: She’s young and cute and can tap and sing with the best of them and, since this is a musical, Marsh gets ample evidence of her skills and hires her for the chorus.

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From there, the plot is familiar and comfortable as an old shoe as the cast of 23 taps and sings their way through a slate of musical numbers as regular as a subway schedule. Some may be recognizable (“We’re in the Money,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo”) and others not so much, but the real treat is in seeing a large, talented cast, well-choreographed by Kate Valle, perform the numbers accompanied by a full, live pit orchestra.


The added bonus is being able to sit at a table and have dinner and drinks beforehand. Candlelight often offers menu items thematically aligned with the show, so this Depression-era menu features a couple of timely curiosities as creamed pea tarts, a Philly cheese steak loaf and pigs in a blanket. There are also more typical entrees included with the ticket price, such as chicken pot pie, beer-battered cod and upgraded options such as fillet and pork chops.

Candlelight likely isn’t getting a Michelin star anytime soon, but the food is decent and brought out quickly, banquet style, by the chipper cast. It’s a fun evening and well worth the trip if you love musical theater and are looking for something different to do. Shows run Thursdays through Sundays, with weekend matinees.

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