Ann Hampton Callaway, the vocal punch of the upcoming Broadway music dance revue, Swing!, will write two songs for the show, which begins at the St. James Theatre Nov. 2.
More details about the show -- including the cast and some of the content -- were revealed the week of Aug. 30. Opening night, as previously reported, is set for Dec. 9.
Laura Benanti (Time and Again, The Sound of Music) and Everett Bradley (an original Stomp-er in New York, and a pop vocalist) are the other singers of the show, which will offer a wide dance floor to dancers Laureen Baldovi and Robert Royston (country western swing champ partners), Ryan Francois and Jenny Thomas (champion Lindy dance partners), Carol Bentley (On the Town, A Christmas Carol), Caitlin Carter (Mona in the Chicago revival), Gerlyn Del Corso (The Red Shoes, Feld Ballet), Beverly Durand (Forever Tango), Scott Fowler (Jerome Robbins' Broadway), Edgar Godineaux (a veteran music video performer), Aldrin Gonzales (Guys and Dolls, Ziegfeld Follies), Carlos R. Sierra (Ballet Hispanico, Ednita Nazario Co.), Maria Torres (Latin dance champion) and Michael Gruber (Cats, My Favorite Year, Goodspeed Opera House).
Singer Ann Hampton Callaway, known for her swinging cabaret performances, is the centerpiece vocalist in Swing!, which is being supervised by Jerry Zaks. Zaks struck revue gold staging the rock 'n' roll show, Smokey Joe's Cafe. Lynne Taylor-Corbett will direct and choreograph the celebration of the 1930s and 40s dance craze that's lately become popular again. Musical director Jonathan Smith will lead the orchestra in a score of swing music, both classic and original (including two tunes from singer songwriter Callaway, who wrote and sang the theme for TV's "The Nanny.").
There will be about 20 numbers, ranging in style from traditional big-band swing to country-western, Latin and neo-swing. The band is made up of former members of the Blues Jumpers, Count Basie Band and Lionel Hampton Band.
Taylor-Corbett choreographed Broadway's Titanic and Chess, Off-Broadway's Song of Singapore and Randy Newman's Faust at the La Jolla Playhouse. She choreographed the films "Footloose" and "My Blue Heaven" and has choreographed for music videos, American Ballet Theatre and PBS' "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?"
Swing dancing and swing music, popular in the 1930s and '40s, have resurfaced in the past several years. The up-tempo jazz-rhythm steps are danced in clubs, seen in music videos -- "neo-swing" is a term applied to such groups as Squirrel Nut Zippers -- and on TV commercials, including popular spots for the Gap. Additionally, swing parties and classes have popped up around the nation.
Songs in the show include "In the Mood," "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Harlem Nocturne," "I'm Beginning to See the Light," "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," "Jumpin' at the Woodside," "Sing, Sing, Sing!" (also seen in Fosse), "Stomping at the Savoy" and "Blues in the Night."
Swing! is based on an idea by Paul Kelly, and is co-conceived by Jack Viertel.
Swing is one of three new musical projects cashing in on the revived craze in the next year. Swing Alley, a new musical about German kids in Hamburg in the Nazi era indulging in all things American (directed by Eric Schaeffer) is in development and, in September 1999, Contact, about a desperate man who connects with a woman in a swing dance club, opens at Lincoln Center's Mitzi Newhouse Theater (directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman, who has recently been working with the aforementioned Squirrel Nut Zippers on the piece).