REVIEW: Swingin’ in the Rain

What an inspired idea it was for Paula Baldwin to rummage through her back catalogue of arrangements to find music for Big Bands that originated from the glory days of the Hollywood Musical Films and Broadway Stage Shows.

Combine this with some classic arrangements for both period and modern Big Bands, add three multi talented singers, and a troupe of Tap Dancing ‘hoofers’ and you had the recipe for more than a Concert - a Show!

This concept was presented last Friday at The Riverhead Theatre in Louth to a full house. Entitled Swingin’ in the Rain (an inspired title for such a show) it was a joy to behold for both Big Band Jazz Fans and those who follow The Musicals.

Paula and her Musical Director Major (Retd) Paul Murrell, had chosen wisely from the many films and musicals available to give a good cross section of music for all to enjoy, with the likes of Guys & Dolls, A Chorus Line, Crazy for You, South Pacific, Anything Goes, My Fair Lady, 42nd Street, Chicago, Phantom, and Funny Girl.

Some fine playing by the band included inspired solos by Keith Maeers (trumpet), Josh Tagg (trombone), Dave Stansfield (tenor) and Viv Peterson (guitar).

The Big Band numbers were a pure delight as they included Gordon Goodwin’s exciting arrangement of Ellington’s Night Train and the scintillating arrangement of Fascinating Rhythm by Sammy Nestico.

On the vocal front, Gary Grace sang a delightful Luck be a Lady and the first male rendition that I have heard of Don’t Rain on my Parade which Barbara Streisand made her own in Funny Girl.

Christine Scott did a sensational version of the 1941 Harry Warren song At Last which was featured in the Glenn Miller Film Sun Valley Serenade but very much in the style of the late Etta James, with some Ella ‘Scat’ breaks for good measure!

Celebrating her new appointment with The National Trust, Sara Blair Manning looked a very different part in her Basque and Fishnets for All That Jazz from Bob Fosse’s Chicago and the girls teamed up forLullaby of Broadway and Accentuate The Positive to great effect.

Mention must also be made to the fine guitar Solo of the Judy Garland evergreen Somewhere Over the Rainbow performed by Viv Peterson, and the six 42nd Street Hoofers who were featured in We’re in the Money from their recent Playgoers show at the same theatre.

The encore number was Hello Dolly featuring the whole band and Company that ended what was a fantastic night of pure joy for both jazz and musicals fans.

It was a full house on Saturday night as well so or those of you who missed it this time round, the show is to be repeated on Sunday afternoon Oct 27 at The Spilsby Theatre and is a ‘must’ to see.

Review by John Toogood.