Amazing. Awesome. Affecting.
Sentimental Journey, a 1940s Music Revue, now playing at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, has it all: great singing, dancing and a warm feeling from head to toe. Show creators Matthew McGee and Scott Daniel and the cast and crew execute it perfectly.
Kudos to choreographer Andi Sperduti, who captures the moves and the essence of the 1940s in the jitterbug, cha cha, swing dancing, ballroom, the Lindy Hop, even a beautiful adagio ballet.
And cheers for Stan Collins, who guided his singers to recall the era's style while keeping their own identities; Tom Hansen for re-creating Roseland right there on stage; Daniel for making costumes that say "1940s," right down to halter tops, midriffs, anklet socks and modified snoods.
It began with casting duo McGee and Daniel finding 14 singers and dancers who could keep up with the show the two put together.
W.C. Green is the quintessential Crooner, whiskey glass in hand, crisp white dinner jacket and black bow tie, exuding cool in Begin the Beguine, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and the moving White Cliffs of Dover.
The Byrd Sisters — Laura Hodos, Meghan Moroney and Megan Wheeler — do close harmonies, Andrews Sisters-style, as in I Got a Guy in Kalamazoo, Rum and Coca-Cola and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, but also show their solo chops and comedy skills, including some sweet scat singing in Act 2's opening number, Tuxedo Junction.
But it's the 10 Swing Kids who will have you out of your seats during the show and tapping your toes when you get out of bed the next morning. It's pure athleticism that allows them to do those bold cartwheels, flips and rolls and eye-popping talent that lets them move their feet a mile a second.
Watch for Liz McFarlane's sultry turn in Heat Wave (she's the one in the red halter dress); Ryan Lingle and Roberta Hoag going ballroom in Almost Like Being in Love; Casey Hicks and Megan Morgan in a gorgeous adagio ballet to Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (listen for the bass sax solo); with Barry Kramer and Erika Scott, Shain Stroff and Tiffani Robbins and Blake Smith joining them to blow off the roof jitterbugging to Shout and Feel It, swing dancing to Traffic Jam, doing a Tea for Two cha-cha, and burning up the floor in Bugle Call Rag.
Musical director Collins' tracks are for real — real trumpets, bass saxophone, clarinets, drums — but even that terrific music takes a back seat to the entire company's dancing in the rousing Sing, Sing, Sing, with an up-tempo version of the title song rounding out the show.
Word to the wise: Take your hankies. If the music and dancing don't make you cry with joy, the sweet and poignant "Bring 'Em Home" tribute to the USO and veterans will.
Co-creator McGee raised expectations with an almost giddy before-show curtain speech, but his words of praise couldn't prepare the audience for the rousing show they were about to see. This is one for the books. The show plays through June 5 with matinees and evening performances.
By the way, to get into the spirit of 1940s dining, the Show Palace chefs, for the first time, have created a nicely seasoned meat loaf with brown gravy for the buffet table, a special treat for those of us who grew up on it and actually prefer it over prime rib or the other fancy stuff.