Despite being the story of a music icon who dies mysteriously, The Glenn Miller Story, which opened on Tuesday at Peterborough’s Broadway Theatre, gets you In The Mood to Get Happy and Sing Sing Sing....
Yes, there is little time to dwell on the sadness of the demise of the great band leader whose timeless tunes are brought to life in 90 foot-tapping, knee-slapping, hand-clapping minutes.
The production loosely follows Miller’s rise from struggling musician searching for “the sound” in 1930s’ America to hit-record superstardom and Hollywood fame, charting his friendship with Chummy Macgregor, meeting his wife Helen, and ultimately his entertaining the troops during World War Two.
Veteran song and dance man Tommy Steele is a wow as Miller, his love of the man and his music shining as brightly as his smile which lights up the theatre.
He might be 79 and not as nimble as he once was, but he has charisma by the bucketload and is the ultimate entertainer.
He is well supported, not least by Sarah Soetaert (Miller’s wife Helen) whose rendition of Moonlight Serenade is one of the highpoints of the first act which mainly features music from the era.
The song’s introduction also gives the audience the first glimpse of the magnificent 16-piece orchestra on stage, which really comes into its own in Act Two, which is dominated by instantly recognisable Miller hits .
Chattanooga Choo Choo really sets the second half alight with a great performance from Steele and the Ensemble - who excel throughout, helped no end by the terrific choreography from Bill Deamer which is evocative of the period.
The orchestra is seen at its best with In The Mood and a poignant (in terms of the story) Pennsylvania 6-5000.
Just when you think its over there is a great finale featuring Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, I’ve Got A Gal From Kalamazoo and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy from the whole company. And with an exuberant Steele still milking the rapturous applause comes an encore of the upbeat Sing Sing Sing with the ensemble once more on top form.
I really liked the set, and the lighting was superb, particularly the use of silhouettes on the backdrop.
See it until January 10.