NEW CANAAN — From behind his piano on Monday afternoon, music director Don Rickenbon was leading the banter between himself and a group of students in the New Canaan High School auditorium.

“Zip-a-dee-doo-da,” he called to the “42nd Street” cast, urging them to speed up and begin their rehearsal of the show, which the New Canaan students will perform March 15, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m.

Even while having fun, the music director still checked in with his students to ensure they were prepared and had finished creating stage outlines, which detail where actors are to stand in particular scenes and microphone and costume changes, the last of which are frequent in the Depression-era musical.

“Most of the cast has at least three changes,” Rickenbon said. “That’s a lot of costumes.”

The musical is the third of five productions New Canaan’s theater department will put out this year. The show centers on a legendary Broadway director, Julian Marsh, who took a financial hit during the Great Depression but is poised to right the course of his career with his new show, “Pretty Lady.”

“He’s basically this legendary director in the world of Broadway, coming right out of the stock market crash in the 1930s, where he struggled,” explained senior Logan Otis, 18, who plays Marsh. “It’s kind of make it or break it, if this doesn’t succeed then he’s kind of done for.”

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Marsh hires Dorothy Brock — played by senior Kaitlyn Piotroski, 17 — a veteran with a big ego, whose ankle injury opens the door for bright-eyed newcomer Peggy Sawyer — played by senior Grace Rucci, 18.

The story hinges on the dynamic between Piotroski’s more-experienced Brock and Rucci’s aspirational Sawyer.

“She’s a diva. She wants wardrobe, she wants a raise in salary even though it’s the Depression, she wants a private limousine and dressing room — everything,” said Piotroski, of her character. “But it’s all kind of a facade.”

The play is directed by New Canaan High School Theatre Coordinator Deirdre Alexander, with the help of choreographer Boe Wank and student assistant director and ensemble cast member Sarah Young. With her other cast members, Young helped to build sets, make costumes and props and work out the logistics of the play — often giving up her Saturdays — all while learning her own lines and taking classes and midterms.

“It was stressful in the beginning. By now I’ve had to detach myself more because I’m on stage a lot,” Young said. “Since the beginning I’ve been here about six days a week.”

The pace is not likely to slow as the show approaches. The set came in last week. By Monday, they were doing their first rehearsals of the show, with Alexander shouting instructions from the first row of the auditorium. Costumes and full dress rehearsals will follow early next week.

“We’ve gotten to the point where we know the show, it’s just working with it, working on the chemistry between the characters and kind of making it as believable as possible,” Otis said.

justin.papp@scni.com; @justinjpapp1