The All Night Strut
Four singers, a three piece band and some swinging music from the 1930s and '40s. These standards are ones that just about anyone over a certain age will remember, and perhaps introduce a younger generation to a whole new history of musical theater. Recalling the swinging Jazz and Big Band numbers of the Great Depression, "The All Night Strut" is presented as more of a concert, but with tight choreography and dance numbers.
Opening with "Chattanooga Choo Choo" with our four singers in a row each under a spotlight with a microphone in front, Big Band-style, the show is off and running. Each number slides seamlessly into another, and keeps moving along with snappy songs. "In The Mood" is probably the most recognizable to audiences as it has been used in many a film and television commercial. The slower numbers and ballads were mostly unknown to this reviewer, but melodic and well presented here.
Each of our crooners has his or her own solo ballad and are talented singers, to be sure. Featuring Robby May (Man #2,) Christiana Rodi (Woman #2,) and Courtney Nolan Smith and Dawone A. Hill as Woman #1 and Man #1 respectively. Hill is the most energetic and flamboyant of the three, but it works with this material well. Smith seems to be having a great deal of fun with the dance numbers, which are tight and evoke the grand musicals of a bygone era. Our cast works well together and keeps the pace moving, which is key with this type of show.
The costumes are perfect and they clearly fit the show, Brian Horton has chosen some period pieces and the ladies' hairstyles could easily fit into a World War II production number. Brian Swasey as director and choreographer knows the material and how to make it work.
The dance numbers are not as complicated as modern theater would be and compliment each song nicely. Music director Paul Buono on the piano, along with Brian Grochowski on bass and Dan Hann on drums are all talented musicians and execute each number flawlessly.
The simple set design recalls the Art Deco feel of the 1930s and the large production numbers of old black and white Hollywood musicals. The lighting is simple and colorful, and the production never really stalls at any point, owing to some skillful direction and a talented cast. This is the type of show that will whisk you away to another time and place for about ninety minutes, and you're sure to be tapping your foot at some point during one of those Jazzy songs.
"The All Night Strut" runs through March 16 at Ocean State Theatre Company, 1245 Jefferson Boulevard Warwick, RI 02886. For info or tickets, call 401-921-1777 or visit www.oceanstatetheatre.org.