Forever Swing

Place des Arts
Co-conceived by Dean Regan and Sam Lutfiyya

swingers If the long drawn out winter is getting you down and you are looking for some diversion and an evening of lively entertainment, then go see Forever Swing. This upbeat and stylish production will not disappoint - but be warned - there is no real plot or drama to speak of. Instead, we are treated to vignettes of the fictitious Tommy Vickers Band travelling the country and playing in different imaginary dance clubs with exotic names like Copacabana and Club Casbah.

I must say the spectacular dancers and highly competent and talented orchestra (with impeccable individual credentials to boot) more than make up for the veil-thin story line. Even if you are not a Swing aficionado you are sure to recognize many of the tunes which long since have entered into our collective consciousness - who doesn't know I got a Gal in Kalamazoo, Begin the Beguine, or Slow Boat to China?

The Big Band format serves as the ideal medium to truly celebrate the star quality of many of the individual musicians and vocalists, who each have their moment of glory in the spotlight to show off their talents. Trumpeter Gary Guthman, clarinet/alto sax player Tom Colclough, and trombonist David Grott were standouts; and the duet sung by Heidi Biang and Michael Bublé was also memorable.

In this production the band plays it straight (no Fellini Orchestra Rehearsal shenanigans with these guys) and this approach would soon wear thin if you were expecting more than just a concert. However, the amazing dance troupe, appearing front and centre, makes several high energy appearances and not only entertains, but also unknowingly gives us a lesson in the dance styles of the era. Who hasn't secretly wanted to learn the Lindy Hop or the Jitterbug? There is even a fire-eater for variety, which also was the case during the actual Big Band era (apparently, many a juggler, clown, etc. found work between the sets of such luminaries as Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Benny Goodman!).

I found the show really evoked a feeling for the era, which had its heyday in the mid-'30s/early '40s - in other words the depression era and WWII. The upbeat music and dancing make you feel that Saturday night at the ballroom was really a time for the rich to play and the poor to forget.

Forever Swing
Place des Arts was the last stop on the tour.

Editor's note - Swing fans are urged to look at the beautifully put together site Swingin' Montreal.

- John Gouws

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