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.”