Dozens of talented performers sang and danced their way across the wide stage of Merrill Auditorium on Saturday as Ovations brought a high-energy touring company of “42nd Street,” directed by Mark Bramble, to Portland.

The 1933 film that formed the basis for the award-winning Broadway hit lifted Depression-era spirits with its catchy music and spectacular dance routines. Tastes and attitudes may have evolved over the years, but the show in its present incarnation still provides a couple hours of solid entertainment, while winking conspiratorially at the audience during some of its cornier moments.

The “42nd Street” storyline has influenced numerous other shows and will seem familiar to just about anyone who has ever seen a backstage musical. A young performer with lots of talent but little experience comes to the big city, where she’s at first rejected but ultimately discovered to be the next big thing. Along the way, we meet various showbiz types and witness rehearsals and productions of some classic numbers.

Caitlin Ehlinger played the sweet, naive but ambitious Peggy who quickly shows that she can tap dance up a storm. Ehlinger was impressive, demonstrating rapid-fire skills as she ran through the gamut of tap steps. After casting off her little-girl cutesy speaking voice, which the actress used to good comic effect, her singing voice — though not quite as singular as her dance work — served her well during a duet version of “About a Quarter to Nine.” Her duet partner and rival headliner is a past-her-prime powerhouse played by Kaitlin Lawrence.

Lawrence had her top moment on “I Only Have Eyes For You,” as she pondered a professionally difficult romance with her true love. Backed by an eight-piece orchestra in the pit at the front of the stage, this and the few other quieter numbers in the show provided a welcome respite from the big song and dance pieces, which succeeded in wowing the crowd.

“Dames” let out all the stops, as colorful painted backdrops and scrims rose and fell while groups of male singer-dancers in top hats and tails took turns holding center stage with women in dazzling gowns. Preening Blake Stadnik led the men through their paces, while the brassy Britte Steele fronted the women.

On this and other numbers, elements of ballet, jazz and traditional chorus line choreography appeared, though the main focus was always on those tapping feet. Lamont Brown was particularly good at working a smooth glide into his tap work.

“We’re in the Money” was an all-out barn burner with dancers, in colorful period costumes, tapping on and around giant mercury dimes.

Matthew J. Taylor, as the impresario, had stellar moments, employing his resonant baritone voice in service of both comedy and song. In the latter category, “Lullaby of Broadway” suggested the old theater magic that the original “42nd Street” helped to create. His thoughtful solo reprise of the title song at the close also seemed just right, after all the flashy fun that preceded it.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.