The fabulous sounds of 1940s swing, bebop, and jive are alive and well and living in Burbank as The Colony Theatre presents the musical revue The All Night Strut!, an entertaining follow-up to last year’s Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris and one that proves the axiom that when you’re on a revue roll, “Why mess with a good thing?”

“Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “In The Mood,” “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “Tuxedo Junction,” “As Time Goes By,” and “Lullaby Of Broadway” are just five of the more than two dozen classic Forties hits performed by a stellar quartet of musical theater triple threats—Michael Dotson, Jayme Lake, Scotch Ellis Loring, and Jennifer Shelton under the sparklingly inventive direction of Murphy Cross and Paul Kreppel.

Performing on Stephen Gifford’s elegantly striking multileveled set and backed by musical director Dean Mora and his terrific three-piece combo, The All Night Strut! gives each member of the quartet the chance to shine. Following some gorgeous four-part harmonizing with “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” Loring delights with a risqué “Minnie The Moocher,” Shelton entertains with the raucous “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer,” Dotson brings tears to more than a few eyes with “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime,” and Lake gets the joint a jammin’ with “In The Mood.” And that’s only the first five musical numbers!

Act One also features a medley of songs now synonymous with World War II including “GI Jive,” “White Cliffs Of Dover,” “Rosie The Riveter,” and the unforgettable “I’ll Be Seeing You.”

As for Act Two, the seductive Latin rhythms of “I Get Ideas” are followed by the gospel-tinged “Operator” and the toe-tapping beats of “Beat Me Daddy, Eight To The Bar.” The fab foursome later prove just how true it is that “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” and end the evening on a high note with “Lullaby Of Broadway.”

Directors/choreographers Cross and Kreppel have conceived each song as a mini-production number, integrating harmonies, dance steps, and considerable humor, thereby allowing each cast member to be shown off at his or her best. Though Dotson, Lake, Loring, and Shelton each have their shining moments, it’s a particular treat to see vocal diva Shelton in rare dance mode, swinging, tapping, jitterbugging with the best of them.

Luke Moyer’s vivid lighting design gives each musical number its own special look and mood. Rebecca Kessin’s sound design expertly mixes the casts’ subtly miked voices and the onstage combo. On the other hand, costumes by Sharon McGunigle (who creates such snappy, original garb for Troubies shows) don’t have the spangly flash and dazzle a revue like The All Night Strut! cries out for. Properties design and set dressing are by the ever dependable MacAndME.

The All Night Strut! was conceived and originally directed and choreographed by Fran Charnas, with musical arrangements by Tom Fitt, Gil Lieb, and Dick Schermesser and original orchestrations by Corey Allen. Leesa Freed is production stage manager

The All Night Strut! ends the Colony’s 2010-11 season on a tuneful note, whether for the over-70 set who can sit back and reminisce, or for younger audience members savoring the jazzy swinging beats that made their grandparents get up and boogie woogie. This Strut may not last all night, but it makes for two hours of enjoyable 1940s musical memories.

Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street, Burbank.
–Steven Stanley
April 2, 2011
Photos: Michael Lamont

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