North Scottsdale doesn’t get to see much of Emily Blake Anderson these days. Though raised here, the fiery tap dancer currently touring with the Broadway production of “42nd Street” that arrives at ASU Gammage on Tuesday has been dancing out her dreams in New York in recent years. In a few days however, the tour brings her home, as Anderson discussed yesterday in a visit with Examiner.
“The first exposure I had to musical theatre was at ASU Gammage,” begins the blue-eyed blonde who plays “bold and sassy” Ethel in the ensemble at Gammage next week. “I saw ‘Chorus Line’ and then later got to see the revival tour of ’42nd Street’ [2001 Tony winner for Best Musical Revival] in the auditorium where I’ll be dancing this time!”
“42nd Street’ is a classic song and dance musical set during the depression,” Anderson describes. “It’s about a girl who comes to the city to make it big in show business, and does. All the dance makes the story exciting and fun to watch.”
Anderson bubbles with enthusiasm about a few appetite-whetting dance details, saying, “The finale number has us choreographed on a grand staircase. There’s this dance break without music and it is a blast. It’s so rhythmically complex. I think we all love it because we are listening hard to each other and we’re working together.”
“All told, we probably dance at least 45 minutes in this show,” she hazards. “I know there is one 15 to 20 minute stretch where we never stop dancing. If I’m not on stage, I have just barely enough time to be changing costumes, and then I go back out.”
Last seen dancing in the Valley at Arizona Broadway Theatre in “White Christmas” a few years back, Anderson likens the two to one another stylistically. “The old-fashioned tapping in ‘White Christmas’ is similar to ’42nd Street,” she says. “Both have a sleek, suave kind of style.”
Leaping from style to ethics in her desert history, Anderson credits her successes in part to Arizona life. “When I was a teenager, the studio I danced with changed ownership, shifting to a very strong ballet focus. At the time that was not my strongest suit.”
After a thoughtful pause that likely acknowledges the irony, she continues, “I’m so glad my instructors encouraged me to hang in there. I grew and became so much stronger. ’42nd Street’ actually features a strong ballet component.”
Valley pool time and zoo time don’t just live in Anderson’s memories, she hopes their part of her visit. And her hunger for adventure extends beyond dance into a general zest for life. “My mom and I will definitely try to squeeze in some Kierland Commons shopping time and maybe lunch at a Mexican fusion restaurant I love there, the Spotted Donkey.”
For Anderson, dance though she may in New York, on the ’42nd Street Avenue’ and beyond, ‘Once a desert girl, always a desert girl’ suits her to a tapping T.