By Dale King
The musical revue Swing, Swing, Swing, is back for an encore at the Broward Stage Door Theatre in Margate. This year’s version packs virtually the same tunes, dance steps and energetic moves seen and heard in 2016, when so many people filled the seats the show had to be held over again and again. Eventually, it ran from June to September.
This year’s production has a finale date of July 30, but that may change, depending on audience numbers. So far, performers seem to be delivering the goods to welcoming applause.
Three original cast members are back — Alexandra Van Hasselt, Sharyn Peoples and Elijah Word. They’re joined by three equally adept vocalists — Pasqualino Beltempo, Rebeca Diaz and Christopher Patterson.
“‘Swing, Swing, Swing’ pays tribute to jazz and swing classics,” said the director Kevin Black, who also conceived of and concocted the show and choreographed it. “The ‘Big Band’ sound, normally created by a 20-plus piece orchestra, is reimagined by using a live piano, bass and drums, and incorporating the cast as the brass section through rhythmic vocals and harmonized scatting.”
Whatever he does, it works well.
Set in an art deco-style nightclub — crafted with precision by set designer Michael McClain — the show offers a raft of songs clumped in thematic groupings. The show opens by “Getting in the Mood,” then moves through “A Sentimental Journey” of train trip songs, stopping for “The Harlem Blues” and proceeding into a jive segment that concludes with a full tap-dance slate.
“It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)” appropriately begins the musical roster. The six singers move smartly to Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood,” complete with lyrics, sung scat-style by Peoples. The set wraps with “This Joint is Jumpin.’” The cast revisits such classics as “Tuxedo Junction,” “Stardust,” “Stormy Weather,” “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” and “Jumpin’ at the Woodside.”
Most of the time, the ensemble sings together, with one, two or more stepping out to lead. Peoples and Patterson modulate their voices to a soft harmony for “Sentimental Journey.” Feinstein opens Act II with a first-rate instrumental version of “Rhapsody in Blue” that introduces a Gershwin segment. The company doubles down with “Clap Yo’ Hands” and “I Got Rhythm.” The mood mellows as Patterson and Van Hasselt float through “Embraceable You” and Word joins Diaz to croon “Someone to Watch Over Me.”
The six singers are apt and able performers, easily moving on and off stage for costume changes. The guys step to the front in tuxes and tails while the women trade their crimson togs for outfits that run the gamut from sexy black to gold-weaved tops and black skirts.
Players in this show all come to Broward with lots of experience. Word, the tall, lanky, dancer/singer, has done Kravis, Slow Burn Theatre and the Wick. Van Hasselt, a petite lady with sterling vocal tones, recently played Louise Bigelow in Carousel. Peoples has demonstrated her vocal versatility at Stage Door as she did for Into the Woods and Spamalot at the Crest Theatre, where she also worked with Kevin Black.
A New York vocalist and dancer, Beltempo portrayed Bernardo in Wick Theatre’s production of West Side Story early this year. Diaz recently validated her melodious chops in Nine at Broward Stage, and she appeared Off-Broadway in The Greatest Pirate Story Ever Told.
A familiar face at Broward Stage, Patterson shook up the stage in Five Guys Named Moe and Sophisticated Ladies. He has performed, directed and choreographed at many professional regional theaters.
Swing, Swing, Swing continues through July 30 at the Broward Stage Door Theatre, 8036 Sample Road, Margate. Tickets are available by calling 954-344-7765 or visiting www.stagedoorfl.org.