Swing! to Shut Doors at St. James Theatre, Jan. 14, 2000

News   Swing! to Shut Doors at St. James Theatre, Jan. 14, 2000
Director and choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Tony-nominated Swing, which opened Dec. 9 at the St. James Theatre will close on Jan. 14, 2000, Playbill On-Line has learned.

Director and choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett's Tony-nominated Swing, which opened Dec. 9 at the St. James Theatre will close on Jan. 14, 2000, Playbill On-Line has learned.

A call to production sources to confirm the closing date was not returned by press time.

Swing showcases top Broadway singing and dance talent in a revue of Swing, Lindy Hop and Broadway styles. The musical celebration features world-class Swing dancers, a Swing band and acclaimed vocalists. Swing! opened at the St. James starring 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. A physically demanding show, Swing! had its share of injuries and special challenges from the beginning. With the Lindy Hop, for instance, the dancers said they were stretching their physical endurance and technical capabilities to the limit.

"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.

Before the show opened, 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 said, 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 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, Chicago and Cleveland.

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