Swing! A Tribute to the Big Band Era

Written by Alan & Blanche Lund
Orchestrations and Vocal Arrangements by Howard Cable
Directed by Alex Mustakas
Huron Country Playhouse, Grand Bend
June 29 to July 17, 2004
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

They sing, they dance, they make us laugh in ‘Swing!’

Huron Country Playhouse has kicked the action up a notch with their second show this season, Swing! The music of the Big Band Era takes centre stage – quite literally, with a jazz band on stage, not tucked away in the orchestra pit.

There’s no plot in Swing!, but each song presents its own mini story about the1930’s and 40’s. And there are a lot of songs – the program lists 40 in act one and 28 in act two – and under Alex Mustakas’ direction, the numbers flow quickly, one into the next.

The ever-popular Keith Savage (a regular at HCP, best known for his role as Harold Hill in The Music Man) provides the comedy in Swing! Not to give away any of the surprise laughs, but Keith is stunning in the Hawaiian War Chant, and it’s suffice to say he looks good in tropical fruit in another number. Theatre goers will also recognize John Devorski, who appeared in Buddy Holly last year at HCP, with Savage. Devorski was also in My Way, the Frank Sinatra tribute at the Grand Theatre in London this past winter. Swing! provides a showcase for Devorski’s excellent singing.

The best vocal presentation are by Christine Glen, who can really belt out the jazz tunes, and Monique Lund who sings beautifully and does comedy, too.

The high-kicking Kara Purdy is an excellent dancer and Patrick Stiles provides amazing footwork. In fact, the entire cast of 10 has some great choreography, tap dancing through numbers such as “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Steppin’ Out with My Baby”. They even try to teach the audience the Lindy Hop, which turns out to be a lot of fun.

The 15 piece band is excellent, following Howard Cable’s orchestrations, under the direction of Harvey Kogen. Kogen is featured in a notable clarinet solo, and Dave Dulong has an amazing trumpet solo.

It’s a high-energy show – lively big band music, excellent singing, great dancing. If you can remember the big band era, you’ll love this show. Even if you aren’t that old, you’ll enjoy it, simply because the dynamic cast exudes good times.

Call Huron Country Playhouse Box Office: (519) 238-6000


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