Writers: Roman Marek and Simon Young
Directors: Roman Marek, Jim Whitley and Phil Barley
Musical Directors: Jon Hibbard and Chris Hibbard
Reviewer: Fiona Hannon
“The era of the crooner is a dying one and many believe the crooner is soon to be extinct. This modern world does not always seem the place for men of style and vigour. Men with a penchant for sentiment, romance and charm. Men who own tap shoes”.
This is a very British take on the art of the crooner, complete with cups of tea served from a china teapot. Featuring three stylish English gentlemen, each with clearly defined characters, the audience is lead through the great American songbook and some of the best-known big band hits of the twentieth century.
Jim Whitley plays Winston, suave and self-assured with an easy-going air. Phil Barley plays Rupert, a classically uptight, well-mannered Englishman and Roman Marek makes up the trio as Charlie, the clown of the piece. All three work wonderfully well together, clearly enjoying the evening as much as their audience. The second act sees them perform as Sammy Davis Jnr (Mr Bojangles), Dean Martin (Ain’t That A Kick In The Head) and Frank Sinatra (Fly Me To The Moon) respectively. Three great voices whether performing as soloists or blending together.
The unsung heroes of the piece are the musicians sharing the stage with the crooners, The Mini Big Band. There’s nothing mini about the sound they produce with piano, bass, drums and six brass players. Musical Directors Jon Hibbard and Chris Hibbard provide the glue that holds the evening together, knocking out hit after hit including You Make Me Feel So Young, Nice and Easy, Beyond The Sea and many more.
The audience at Doncaster’s CAST Theatre are immediately involved in the performance, as our crooners try to find themselves a mate to continue their dying line. Cue lots of fun with lots of audience participation, sometimes a little too much participation, but always handled with good humour from the stage. For many, this is an opportunity to sing along to their favourite songs and the standing ovation at the end showed just how much they had enjoyed the evening.
Staging, designed by Leon Maculwicz, is simple but effective with two glorious chandeliers giving class and warmth while allowing maximum performance space, especially important when the guys get out their tap shoes. The soft shoe shuffle was perfectly pitched, easy going, relaxed and effortless with charm to spare.
This is a simply super show for anyone who loves the big band sound and a fun evening out. Further performances are planned for July and August.
Touring nationwide | Image: Contributed