After 43 previews and 461 performances, director and choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Tony-nominated Swing will close at the St. James Theatre on Jan. 14. The show has played at the St. James since it opened on Dec. 9, 1999. After a Nov. 20, 2000, launch, the Swing tour began at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles.
From the outset, Swing's most experienced Broadway hoofers remarked on the work and skill involved with Swing dancing (especially the Lindy Hop), which is based on extensive collaborative work with a single partner. For the show's Swing couples, the eight-show weekly Broadway schedule was daunting.
As reported earlier, Swing! opened at the St. James starring Caitlin Carter, Laura Benanti, Everett Bradley, Casey MacGill (who has since left the show) and jazz/cabaret star Ann Hampton Callaway in her Broadway debut.
The show has been fine tuned at various times, often allowing cast members the chance to broaden their contribution and stretch themselves creatively. The original 30 dance numbers in Swing represented the many forms of swing that are popular around the world, including neo-Swing dances, country western, Latin and traditional Swing dancing.
The Gotham City Gates, a Swing band comprising former members of the Blues Jumpers, Illinois Jacquet and the Lionel Hampton Band, gave the show its distinctive and compelling sound, and original cast members Bradley, Callaway and MacGill made musical contributions to the show. "The demanding quality of this work is remarkable, and the commitment of the company is inspiring," Swing originator Paul Kelly told Playbill On-Line last fall. "First of all, it's wall to wall dance; it's not a dance number, then a book scene, and then a song. A very key element to the project was bringing in associate choreographers as consultants. Lynne's work with them has brought about some of the most successful elements of the show."
As reported earlier, Taylor-Corbett's associate choreographers on Swing included Scott Fowler, Rod McCune and Ryan Francois, the World Lindy Hop champion. Show originator Kelly and several cast members unanimously cited McCune's contributions. McCune served as both dance captain and "lift coach," which they say helped enabled the Broadway dancers to learn the Swing and Lindy Hop skills that Ryan and his wife and partner Jenny Thomas brought to the project. Through this process Taylor-Corbett was able to fashion the cohesive dance company she had envisioned.
Taylor-Corbett's previous credits include choreographing Titanic and Chess, as well as the films "Footloose" and "My Blue Heaven."
Four-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Zaks supervised the production. Sets are designed by Thomas Lynch, costumes by William Ivey Long, lighting by Kenneth Posner and orchestrations by Harold Wheeler. Based on an original idea by Paul Kelly, Swing is produced by Marc Routh (newly appointed head of the League of Off-Broadway Theatres), Richard Frankel, Steven Baruch, Thomas Viertel and Jujamcyn Theaters, in association with BB Promotion, Dede Harris/Jeslo Productions, James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyers, Libby Adler Mages/Mari Glick and PACE Theatricals/SFX.
The Shubert New Haven Theatre will present Swing!, May 8-20, 2001. Last June, Shubert performing Arts Center president and CEO Caroline Werth announced that the show will be part of the New Haven theatre's 2000-2001 subscription series. By the time it plays New Haven, Swing! will have run in Los Angeles, Seattle, East Lansing, Baltimore, Miami, Dallas, Philadelphia, Chicago and Cleveland.
—By Murdoch McBride