Get In the “Swing!” Mood at the Carnegie
Posted On April 1, 2019
Review by Laurel Humes of “Swing!”: Carnegie Theatre
The Carnegie has â€œSwing!â€ â€“ an exuberant, nostalgic,
song-and-dance show that revisits the swing era of jazz in the 1930s and â€˜40s.
The show, with no spoken dialogue, consists of 24 songs
performed by a talented cast of 10 singers and dancers. It is briskly directed
by Tracey Bonner, who also choreographed.
The show takes its name from the opening number: â€œIt Donâ€™t
Mean a Thing, If It Ainâ€™t Got That Swing,â€ lyrics by Irving Mills, music by
Duke Ellington. From there, weâ€™re off, with songs by such other well-known
composers and writers as Count Basie, Benny Goodman and Johnny Mercer.
In an all-around terrific cast, a standout is Bethany Xan
Jeffery, who shows her vocal and acting skills in both comedic novelty numbers
and plaintive solos. She and the strong-voiced R. DeAndre Smith share â€œBli
Blip,â€ a humorous song certainly made more complicated by its scat
singing/vocal improvision component.
And Jeffery nearly brought down the house opening night with
her wry, then furious rendition of â€œBlues in the Night.â€
Featured singer Sara Violaâ€™s talents are showcased in a
beautiful version of â€œSkylark,â€ then in â€œCry Me a River,â€ a duet with
trombonist Zach Granger, who comes off the bandstand to join her center stage.
The 8-musician band (The RL Little Big Band), led by Randy
Linville, plays from the stage. The band is a vital part of the cast and evokes
the time of the Big Bands and fancy nightclubs.
A huge part of â€œSwing!â€ is the dancing, of course. While all
cast members dance, the workload is mostly borne by the younger ones (four from
Northern Kentucky University!). The high-energy dance numbers are full of
lifts, twirls and acrobatics that several times brought gasps and appreciative
applause from the audience.
The dancers are Franchesca Montazemi, Grace Vetter, Trase
Millburn, Collin Newton, Renee Stoltzfus and John Woll (also a featured singer).
An Act 2 highlight is a brief dance contest that actually
attracted some audience volunteers (I donâ€™t think they were ringers!), who
braved the stage despite watching the â€œprosâ€ for 90 minutes.
â€œSwing!â€ is toe-tapping fun and pure enjoyment. The show
continues weekends through April 14. Call 859-957-1940 for tickets.