Sunday, November 20, 2005

Swing (Carousel Dinner Theatre)

Carousel’s ‘Swing!’ swings audience

“It was worth the drive in from Warren!” Fill in the name of the town, but those were excited words of some audience members as they exited Carousel Dinner Theatre’s production of ‘SWING.’

As long as there has been a Broadway, there have been music and dance revues. ‘SWING!’ is one of those. The show opened on the Great White Way in December of 1999 and ran through mid-January, 2001, a respectable 461 performances.

As its title indicates, the show centers on swing music, also known as swing jazz or the big band sound. It is a music that was popular during the 1930s and 40s in the United States. The major dance forms that went with the music included boogie woogie and the jitter bug.

Reviews of the Broadway production stated that is was exuberant, fun and a sure winner. It was called “a show that is one big exclamation point.”

There is no story line, just a series of dance, song, instrumental solo and group performances. Some of the songs included are: “Hit Me with a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce,” “G.I. Jive,” “ I'll Be Seeing You, “ “In the Mood,” “Swing, Brother, Swing,” “Cry Me a River,” “Blues in the Night,” “All of Me,” and “Stompin' at the Savoy.”

The Carousel production, under the adept directing of Marc Robin, features the creative choreography of Beverly Durand and Mark Stuart Eckstein. The duo also dance in the show and provide many of the show’s highlights. Eckstein tosses Durand around like a sack of potatoes. He sweeps the floor with her body, tosses her skyward on numerous occasions, twirls and twists and flips her with ease. Their versions of “Show Me What You’ve Got,” and “Boogie-Woogie Country” were show stoppers.

Other highlights included: the dynamite “Swing It, Brother, Swing” and “Don’t Mean a Thing,’ the opening number; Bli-Bip” which featured the duo singing of Charles Statham and Kate McCann; “Harlem Nocturne” which featured Jessica Dillan performing an interactive sensual dance number with a cello; the pretty ballad, “I’ll Be Seeing You” sung by Kate McCann and featuring the dancing of Joe Komara and Courtney Combs; the company’s singing and dancing of “Swing It, Brother, Swing” and “Cry Me A River” featuring Ashley Hunt and strong trumpet solo; and, a fine rendition of “Blues in the Night” featuring Kate McCann, Jessica Dillan and Robert Bottoms.

Steve Parson’s musical direction, Paul Black’s fantastic lighting concepts, Paul Sannierud’s creative big band techno set and Dale DiBernardo’s costumes, all added to the quality of the production. Another added feature was the theatre’s new sound system, which made the vocals and the music crisp and clear.

CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: If you love swing music, if you love good dancing, if you love good singing, if you like musicals that entertain even though they have no story line, you’ll love Carousel’s ‘SWING!.’