Swing’s the thing in The All Night Strut!

Swing’s the thing in The All Night Strut!  Conceived and directed by Clevelander Fran Charnas, this jumpin’ jive show premiered at Pickle Bill’s in the Flats in 1976 then moved to pre-restoration Playhouse Square to further efforts to save our theaters in the tradition of Jacques Brel is Alive and Well & Living Paris. From touring with the Glenn Miller Orchestra to performing with the Boston Pops, this classy, sassy musical revue has played the world over to record-breaking houses and garnered rave reviews from critics.

September 21-24A delightful romp through the dance and music of the 1930s and ’40s.
The All Night Strut! moves through the Depression, World War II and the post-war boom in a two-act musical celebration of the 1930s and ’40s, filled with jazz, blues, bebop and American songbook standards. Weaving together the work of legendary songwriters such as Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Cab Calloway and the Gershwins, the story moves through time and place to highlight a slick slice of yesteryear and capture a beloved American era.
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Four performers welcome you, full-throttle, on board the “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” It’s a place where sad stories are told with optimism and flair. “Minnie The Moocher” tells a story about a big-hearted gal gone wrong. The world seems to have turned its back on a man who plaintively asks “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?”

We switch gears to happier moments and experiences: jitterbugging and getting “In The Mood” and a Saturday night bash in Harlem where old Hannah Brown says “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer.” Romantic memories from Old London Town cast their spell in “A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square.” We become mesmerized with the syncopations of a “Crazy Rhythm” and seduced by the odd and mellow lure of coffee and other things with “Java Jive.”

Reflections of war in a medley of songs make us experience a range of emotions from discomfort, hope (“Shoo Shoo Baby”), homesickness (“White Cliffs Of Dover”), opportunity (“Rosie The Riveter”), to madness (“Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition”) and heartache (“I’ll Be Seeing You”). The act ends with lingering memories of what was and what might have been.

Act Two begins with a questionably sincere promise of fidelity (“Ain’t Misbehavin’”). Love and sincerity are shown in other ways, such as faith in the gospel-inflected “Operator,” as hopeful fantasy in “Dream,” and as pure fun ‘jamming’ in “Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar.”Two couples square off in a battle of one-upmanship. They are sophisticated, funny and flirtatious as they complain of their stalled affair (“A Fine Romance”). Things then get sultry in the South with slow, steamy moves to dance the night away (“Tuxedo Junction”). The mood suddenly perks up and we swing and sway to “Jukebox Saturday Night.”

Even as the world changes, we are reminded that sentiments such as love and passion never fade or go away (“As Time Goes By”). Keeping spirits up — jivin’, swingin’ and singin’ — give the finale the feel of a great time (Medley: “Hit That Jive Jack,” “Billie’s Bounce,” “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”). As the cast bows, the excitement and optimism of a world long gone still reverberates in the sweet sentiments of “Lullaby Of Broadway.”

Musical Numbers

1    Chattanooga Choo Choo – All
2    Minnie The Moocher – All
3    Bother, Can You Spare A Dime? –Miguel, All
4    In The Mood – JIll, All
5    Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer – NedaAll
6    A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square – Robert, All
7    Crazy Rhythm – All
8    Java Jive – All
9    World War II Medley – All
10    Ain’t Misbehavin’ – Miguel, All
11    Operator – Neda, All
14    Dream – All
15    Beat Me, Daddy, Eight To The Bar – Soprano, All
16    A Fine Romance – All
17    Tuxedo Junction – All
18    As Time Goes By – Jill, All
19    Finale – All
20    Lullaby Of Broadway – All

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