Wednesday, April 13, 2016

reviews - THE ALL NIGHT STRUT - Phoenix Theatre

Trisha Ditsworth, Toby Yatso, Christopher George Patterson, and Brittney Mack
Photo Courtesy Phoenix Theatre / Matt Chesin
highlights from local critics reviews - (click link at bottom of each review to read complete review)

Click here for more information on this production that runs through May 1st.

"...The All Night Strut ...features songs of the 1930s and 1940s. While there is virtually no plot or dialogue and very little to string the songs together, Phoenix Theatre's cast is exceptional, the six-piece band is superb, and the direction and choreography are energetic.... a "trip down memory lane" for those who grew up in that era. Younger theatregoers might not quite understand how important these songs were to those who went through the Great Depression or World War II. With sentimental numbers like "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?," the reflections of war and the impact of hard times are deeply felt through the lyrics of these songs....However, while the show itself is fun, there really isn't much substance to it and the transitions between the songs are sometimes a bit jarring. Fortunately, the arrangements, both for the band and the stellar vocal arrangements for the four member cast, are excellent and the cast deliver energetic performances which help give some dimension to the material. The foursome include Trisha Ditsworth, Brittney Mack, Christopher George Patterson, and Toby Yatso, all of whom have exceptional, expressive deliveries of their lyrics and superb voices that wring the emotion, heartbreak, and joy from their songs....Director and choreographer Michael Jenkinson adds plenty of razzle dazzle and always changing dance steps to the show that keeps it lively. Alan Ruch's music direction and conducting of the bandare exceptional. ...The All Night Strut is more a concert of the music of the Big Band era than a musical. It also lacks a lot when compared to other musicals, since there is no story or character development beyond what exists in the individual song lyrics, and younger theatre goers, who may not be familiar with the material, might be underwhelmed by the songs. Fortunately Phoenix Theatre has a great cast, awesome band and upbeat choreography and direction that overcome some of these shortfalls as they bring back as the show states "the glorious music of the 1930s and 1940s.""  -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

"I love the jazzy and bluesy ‘30s and ‘40s music that enabled this country to thrive during the Depression, World War II, and the years that followed the War.  The wonderfully engaging Phoenix Theatre musical revue, “The All Night Strut” captures this period’s rich popular music and jiving dances as it takes audiences on an entertaining and marvelously produced journey. Director/choreographer Michael Jenkinson stages the revue with suave elegance using a quartet of performers who sing with gusto as they bop with slick smoothness executing engaging tap routines and other period numbers that turn this charmer into a winner....The director summarizes this carefree era using an infectious musical gusto captured flawlessly by conductor Alan Ruch and his six-person band....The delightful “All Night Strut” will appeal to lovers of the period’s lusty songs and dances and by those who use the show to see how people relaxed during this stressful time."
--Chris Curcio, KBAQ (click here to read the complete review)

"Pure indulgence coated in lush, harmonized lyrics poured from the Phoenix Theatre mainstage in yesterday's matinee of "The All Night Strut," ... the 1930s and 40s swing era tribute...Early on, the sincerity of "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" had us believing wholeheartedly that baritone Toby Yatso himself had lived through the Stock Market crash of '29 and was taking his place in the breadline....Alongside the endearing sincerity were huge dollops of the sensational. ...a spiritualized, gospel version of "Operator." Blissful, ironclad jazz harmonies teemed out with contralto Brittney Mack at the reins. Similar sparkle had appeared earlier in the evening at tenor Christopher George Patterson's feet. The arrangement of "Crazy Rhythm" introduced his amazing tap gift....The earnest, the twinkle and the swagger all worked because the whole production was just so darn smart. For one thing Trisha Ditsworth's whipped-cream lilting soprano notes topped so many chords--never shrill but often stratospherically remarkable. The contrast of her melty "I'll Be Seeing You" made it all the richer. Classy, sophisticated arrangements defined the music as well....It was all complimented by simple, elegant lighting and set design. Atop the grand staircase, with each separate step individually lit occasionally in time to the music, sat a tuxedoed jazz combo led by Alan Ruch at a sleek, grand piano....Indulge and escape into Phoenix Theatre's "All Night Strut" knowing it's the swankiest splurge you'll make this spring." -Jennifer Haaland, (click here to read the complete review)

"The smooth, poppy side of the swing era is fodder for a congenial revue in “The All Night Strut!” ...More toe-tapping than foot-stomping...With a bare minimum of chatter (and historical context), the show gives a brief nod to the Depression...and it ventures briefly into Harlem...Mostly, however, the “Strut” stays uptown with mainstream hits ...The actors have a lot of fun with comic takes on “A Fine Romance,” the tango number “I Get Ideas” and a rearranged “Crazy Rhythm”...If you’re “In the Mood” for a breezy walk through the slick hits of the swing era, “The All Night Strut!” delivers no less, and not much more."  - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)

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