Swing! Opens at St. James Theatre Dec. 9

News   Swing! Opens at St. James Theatre Dec. 9 After five weeks of previews, Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Swing! opens officially at the St. James Theatre.
Caitlin Carter and Scott Fowler.
Caitlin Carter and Scott Fowler. (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

After five weeks of previews, Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Swing! opens officially at the St. James Theatre.

The high energy, all-dance nod to the worldwide Swing phenomenon stars composer and song stylist Ann Hampton Callaway in her Broadway debut, with direction and choreography by Taylor-Corbett. The production was surpervised by the Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks.

The vocalists of Swing! include Laura Benanti, Everett Bradley and Ann Hampton Callaway, with Casey MacGill. The dancers include: Laureen Baldovi, Carol Bentley, Caitlin Carter, Geralyn Del Corso, Beverly Durand, Scott Fowler, Ryan Francois, Edgar Godineaux, Aldrin Gonzales, Robert Royston, Carlos Sierra-Lopez, Jenny Thomas, Keith Lamelle Thomas, Maria Torres and Michael Gruber.

Developed from an idea by the show's originator, Paul Kelly, Swing showcases top Broadway singing and dance talent in a revue of Swing, Lindy Hop and Broadway styles.

The full list of producers for Swing! currently includes Marc Routh, Richard Frankel, Steven Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Jujamcyn Theaters and Lorie Cowen Levy/Stanley Shopkorn in association with BB Promotion, Dede Harris/Jeslo Productions, James D. Stern/Douglas L. Meyer, Libby Adler Mages/Mari Glick and PACE Theatricals/SFX. As reported earlier, the show's dancers say they are stretching their physical endurance and technical capabilities to the limit, especially with the Lindy Hop. Production sources say that despite a few minor injuries and a few scheduling adjustments, the show is opening with its original cast intact.

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"It's right up there," said dancer Caitlin Carter, when asked to rate the show's difficulty on a scale of one to ten. Carter, who is steeped in ballet, said the special demands of Swing and the Lindy Hop made working on the show a special challenge. "There's a lot more 'partnering' necessary in this show than in others," Carter added.

Carter and two of her cast mates, Carol Bentley and Scott Fowler, told Playbill On-Line that with the Lindy Hop, dancers typically partner off in order to establish everything from stronger routines to deeper trust.

Typically in Broadway dance, the dancers say they dance with an individual. In Swing, they are enthusiastic about getting the opportunity to rediscover partner dancing, which opens up a whole new world for them.

"The demanding quality of this work is remarkable, and the commitment of the company is inspiring," Swing originator Paul Kelly told Playbill On Line. "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."

Taylor-Corbett's associate choreographers on Swing include Scott Fowler, Rod McCune and Ryan Francois, the World Lindy Hop champion. Show originator Kelly and several cast members unanimously cite 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."

"There's something about this music that just gets to people," Kelly added. "Whether it gets to their souls or the soles of their feet first, I don't know. I recognized that it's inherently joyful and I wanted to capture that."

Four-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Zaks supervises 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 (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 musical celebration features world-class Swing dancers, a Swing band and acclaimed vocalists Laura Benanti, Everett Bradley, Casey MacGill and jazz/cabaret star Ann Hampton Callaway in her Broadway debut.

The 30 dance numbers in Swing represent 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 new Swing band comprising former members of the Blues Jumpers, Illinois Jacquet and the Lionel Hampton Band, performs throughout the show, giving it a distinctive and compelling sound.

Cast members Bradley, Callaway and MacGill also made musical contributions to the show.

The current Swing song list, included below, features familiar songs, some new arrangements and a few world premiere numbers.

* "It Don't Mean a Thing if It Ain't Got that Swing" by Duke Ellington
* "Airmail Special"/"Jersey Bounce" /"Opus One"
"Airmail Special" by Benny Goodman, James R. Mundy, Charles Christian
* "Jersey Bounce" by B. Plater, T. Bradshaw, E. Johnson, B. Feyhe and D. Ellington
"Opus One" by Don George, Johnny Hodges and Harry James
*"Jumpin' at the Woodside" by William "Count" Basie
* "Bounce Me Brother (with a Solid Four)" by Don Raye, Hughie Prince
* "Two and Four"* by Ann Hampton Callaway
* "Hit Me with a High Note and Watch me Bounce" by Don George, Duke Ellington
* "Throw that Girl Around"* by Everett Bradley, Ilene Reid, Michael Heitzman
* "Show Me What You Got"* by Everett Bradley, Jonathan Smith
* "Bli Blip" by Duke Ellington, Sid Kuller
* "Rhythm" by Casey MacGill
* "Blues in the Night" by Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer
* "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" by Don Raye, Hughie Prince

USO Section featuring:
* "GI Jive" by Johnny Mercer
* "String of Pearls" by Edgar DeLange, Jerry Gray
* "Gal in Kalamazoo" by Mack Gordon, Harry Warren
* "Candy" by Mack David, Joan Whitney, Alex C. Kramer
* "I'm Gonna Love You Tonight" by Casey MacGill, Jack Murphy,
* "I'll Be Seeing You" by Irving Kahal, Sammy Fain

* "In the Mood" by Joe Garland
* "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" by Lew Brown, Stept and Charles Tobias * "Swing Brother Swing" by Walter Bishop, Lewis Raymond and Clarence Williams
* "Caravan" by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol
* "Harlem Nocturne" by Earl H. Hagen and Dick Rogers
* "Dancers in Love" by Duke Ellington
* "Take Me Back to Tulsa"/"Stay All Night" by James Robert Wills, Tommy Duncan
* "Boogie Woogie Country" by Jack Murphy, Jonathan Smith
* "All of Me"/"I Won't Dance"
* "All of Me" by Seymour Simons and Gerald Marks
* "I Won't Dance" by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II
* "Bill's Bounce" by Bill Elliott
* "Cry Me a River" by Arthur Hamilton
* "Kitchen Mechanics Night Out"* Lyrics: Paul Kelly, Casey MacGill, Lynne Taylor-Corbett; Music: Casey MacGill, Jonathan Smith
* "Shout and Feel It" By William "Count" Basie
* "Stompin' at the Savoy" by Benny Goodman, Edgar M. Sampson, Chick Webb, Andy Razaf; additional lyrics and arrangement by Ann Hampton Callaway

Finale:
* "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Louis Prima, Andy Razaf, L. Berry
* "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got that Swing)" by Duke Ellington
* "Swing Brother Swing" by Walter Bishop, Lewis Raymond, Clarence Williams.