Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Musical leaps into the art of amazing

If you love high-high-HIGH energy dancing and smooth singing, the musical Swing!, playing matinees and evenings at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre, should suit you fine. It's a paean to the age of dancing when dancing was real — swing, ballroom, jitterbug, jive, ballet and a combination of all of it.

With dancing that goes from athletic to comedic to graceful and singing that's sometimes sultry, and other times jazzy, cute, or touching, Swing! entertains and delights for almost two energy-packed hours.

Director Matthew McGee wisely eschewed the original Broadway choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett so that the Show Palace's choreographer Andi Sperduti could tailor each dance to the strengths and talents of his cast members and the physical requirements of the Show Palace's stage. The result is nothing short of amazing.

Music director Bill Garon's four featured singers — Sara DelBeato, Larry Alexander, Gabrielle Mirabella and Edwin Watson — do justice to every song (I got a glimpse of his opening night critique notepad and didn't see a single criticism).

Even so, there are moments that are pure magic, the most memorable when Ms. DelBeato sings a torchy Blues in the Night, as dancers Lacey Vazquez, Taavon Gamble and Maiza Ornelaz dance a torrid and heartbreaking vignette to the words. Ms. DelBeato puts the style in "song stylist," with her emotional, dramatic, note-perfect voice. Blues and her mellow I'll Be Seeing You with Ms. Vazquez and David Tanciar dancing the poignant story, with breath-taking ballroom/ballet-style lifts and leaps, will stay with you long after the curtain comes down.

Actually, the show is something of a showcase for Ms. Vazquez, as she gracefully glides in adagio through Harlem Nocturne with Shain Stroff, the two numbers sung by Ms. DelBeato and a high-steppin' Rhythm Crossover with the company.

Dancer Jarvis Mardis gets the spotlight, too, "lip-synching" on the trombone as the elegant Ms. Mirabella, looking like an Erte fashion drawing, swings in Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce and shows his comedic chops dancing with the bouncy Megan Morgan as Alexander does Kitchen Mechanics' Night Out that segues into a swinging musical number, Shout and Feel It.

Ms. DelBeato charms again as she's joined by tall and likeable Watson for a tongue-twisting novelty number, Bli-Blip. Then a perky Kate O'Connell and geeky Stroff continue the fun with a comedy dance to Dancers in Love.

Set and light designer Tom Hansen sets the mood just right with his Art Deco swoops and colors caressing the stage. Costume designers Pat Werner and Ms. Sperduti match those with bright colors that blend or contrast with the mood as needed, though they didn't really find Ms. DelBeato's most becoming style until the penultimate number, Stompin' at the Savoy, when she was decked out in flowing black.

The show won the Tony Award for Best Musical in 2000, and, indeed, the music is appealing. But it's the performances, both by singers and dancers, that make it fly, and the Show Palace's version doesn't just fly, it soars.

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