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What an enjoyable evening – it certainly went with a swing.  On the surface the story of the Andrews Sisters, documenting their life through stories and song, but something much richer than that, a glorious combination of music and excellent singing made this a truly memorable evening.

I love the swing era and thoroughly enjoyed this piece, written by Richard Cowling, featuring all the wonderful music of the Andrews Sisters and a few other singers of the time, accompanied by a band that really got the big band sound and vibe, the depth and musicality of the brass section particularly was wonderful.  I couldn’t fault it.

The setting was simple, and the only comment I would make, is that I would have had everyone on stage most of the time, and done away with the blackouts, as they interrupted the flow of the production.  I can understand that the blackouts marked the different scenes, but the way it was set lent itself to a more seamless flow of action.

Sound balance was great throughout, and lighting complimented the mood of the performances.

Costumes were mostly fine – I liked small details such as seamed stockings, they really echoed the era, well done to the ladies who styled their own hair to match the era.  The gents all looked very smooth, well tailored and sharp.  

Emma Orr, Jo Yirrell and Clare Watson as the Andrews Sisters harmonised perfectly and got into the parts really well, I loved what they did, the sound they created, and the fact that they also each got the chance to sing a solo number.  Three very good voices here that blended well, they also got the very stylised actions to a T.  One number that I particularly enjoyed was Bie Mir Bist Du Schon, it was deeper in tone than some of the other numbers, and created a good contrast – although I knew the song I didn’t realise that was the title!!  

Mel Ramsey and Jane Hopton as the older versions of Maxene and Patty told the story with understanding and vibrancy, they sang extremely well, with plenty of characterisation and interest.

Reece Lowen gave a very good performance as Bing Crosby, nicely sung, and I loved the number he did with the girls, great harmonies.

Karen Franks was a very lively and showy Carmen Miranda.

The swift repartee of Andy Poulton and Terry Mills as Abbott and Costello in their First Base sketch was exceptional, very funny and such a quick pace it was another highlight of a great show.

I liked Steve Peters second number as Dean Martin better than the first, the whisky glass and more laid back style really epitomised the Dean Martin I remember.  However, both numbers were delivered well.

Hannah Lowen was charming on stage, Putting on the Ritz was nicely sung and danced, with simple but effective choreography.

Lorna Trapp added another dimension to the Sisters as Joyce DeYoung, and blended well with Maxene and Patty.  Nice to see Lorna back on stage, and also Deborah Cheshire who played Ma and Janie Sell with depth and understanding.

John Bright and Stacey Peck played small but pivotal roles within the story, getting the feel of the era well.

Choreography was simple but suited the people on stage and the music, always best to keep it within everyone’s capabilities and rely more on patterns, which Jo Harris did with good effect.

Overall a nostalgic and enjoyable production, lively and beautifully musical, I loved it.

St. Andrew’s Players

“SWING, SWING, SWING”review date: 17th  May 2019 - St Andrew’s Church, Luton

    Writer, Director & MD: Richard Cowling

Choreographer: Jo Harris

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