The All Night Strut! at the Brown County Playhouse is a loosely formatted pastiche of hit songs from the thirties and forties. The show has plenty of non-stop action with a nicely spaced alternation of group and individual numbers.
The show is a summer showcase for the stars of the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Dramas program in Musical Theatre. All eight of the singer dancers were in this spring’s Oklahoma! and the group share credits from earlier Indiana University shows, Seussical, The Wild Party and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. The director and choreographer for The All Night Strut! is IU’s Emmy award winning George Pinney and the musical director and pianist for the show is IU’s Terry LaBolt.
The talented young cast sings and dances its way through a set that gets rolling with the whole cast singing “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” It progresses through Andrew Brewer singing the touching depression song “Brother can you spare a Dime,” moves on to the raucous “Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer” sung by Gina Ricci and wraps ups with “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.” That number includes an audience pleasing bit of tap work by William Angulo and Mandy Striph.
The first act of The All Night Strut wraps up with a World War II Medley. “G.I. Jive” got things moving and then “Mandy Striph” touched the heart strings of hope with “White Cliffs of Dover.” The war time efforts were saluted with “Rosie the Riveter,” the dangers with “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” and the hopeful end with “Don’t Sit under the Apple Tree.” I looked at my watch and was surprised that it had been only forty-five minutes.
Act two of The All Night Strut! began with the cast refreshed and in a costume change for music of the postwar forties. Things began with “Juke Box Saturday Night” led by Russell Stout. Trent Hulen followed with “Ain’t Misbehavin’’.” Kerry Ipema’s featured number was “Dream.” The hit of the set and the evening was Lovelee Caroll’s spirited gospel song “Operator.” The Brown County audience responded with rhythmic clapping, lots of applause and even a few ‘amens’.
The second act of The All Night Strut! has less structure than the first, but the tunes are all welcome familiar favorites. The dancing and the singing continued at the high level set right at the beginning.
The All Night Strut!
Brown County Playhouse
June 11-July 5, 2009
Conceived and originally choreographed by Fran Charnas
Musical arrangements by Tom Fitt, Gil Lieb and Dick Schermesser
Additional orchestration by Corey Allen