Swing! | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Swing! 

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Choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett's credits range from Broadway (Chess) and Hollywood (Footloose) to the serious dance world (American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet)--and her varied experience shows in this carefully crafted, technically precise concept revue, which she also directed under the guidance of "production supervisor" (whatever that means) Jerry Zaks. This genial, entertaining evening of song and dance evokes the swing era of the 30s and 40s but gives it a contemporary sensibility. The music, played by a small but feisty onstage band, is central: great tunes abound by the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen, Benny Goodman, country-swing king Bob Wills, and Chicago-bred chanteuse Ann Hampton Callaway. In one vignette, vocalist Sarah Jane Nelson belts out a torrid, torchy "Cry Me a River" while her fickle lover, played by trombonist Jonathan Arons, comically woos her with his wah-wah. In another scene, set at a World War II USO ball, Jeb Bounds and Carrie Helms execute a rapturous classical pas de deux to the plaintive strains of "I'll Be Seeing You." The classic "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" is belted by a briefcase-toting group of guys clad in conservative corporate drag as regimented as the military uniforms sported by the three servicewomen who follow them in "GI Jive." In "Bli-Blip," big, beaming Alan H. Green receives a nonverbal scat scolding from Ann Crumb for being late for their date. In "Throw That Girl Around," Green leads the ensemble in a dazzling display of jitterbuggery, with guys tossing and twirling their female partners in a seemingly endless variety of intricate partnering moves. The evening's capper is "Bill's Bounce," with Dana Solimando and Helms bobbing and flying through the air in a joyous combination of aerial acrobatics and bungee jumping. Thomas Lynch provides the bandstand set, and William Ivey Long the candy-colored, period-perfect costumes. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, 312-902-1400. Through April 22: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday, 8 PM; Saturday, 2 and 8 PM; Sunday, 2 PM. $25-$65.

--Albert Williams

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joan Marcus.

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Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
April 30 1
Performing Arts
March 21

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