Miller cast - picture Pamela Raith

The Glenn Miller Story

The New Alexandra Theatre

*****

IN the summer of 2014, Tommy Steele was having dinner with his dear friend, director/producer,Bill Kenwright, and during the evening the seeds were sown for the idea of The Glenn Miller Story.

Without hesitation, it was decided that Tommy was the perfect choice to play the role of Glenn, the iconic leader of the most famous swing band of the wartime era. And so, the story begins.

The packed auditorium at The Alex greeted the delightful Tommy Steele with rapturous applause as he stepped into the aircraft hangar that formed the versatile, cleverly designed set. The opening number, Without You, a duet with Tommy and 'Chummy' MacGregor, (Ashley Knight) set the tone for this terrific show.

The troupe of superb dancers gave high octane energy with the big show stoppers, including, Sing Sing Sing, Chattanooga Choo Choo, St Louis Blues March, Get Happy and the finale of Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, I’ve Got A Gal From Kalamazoo and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy where the enthusiastic audience were invited to sing-a-long and happily obliged.

Alongside the great swing numbers, there were poignant duets with Glenn and his beautiful wife Helen, (Abigail Jaye). Helen also gave us solo renditions of Moonlight Serenade and At Last. Pure magic.

When Glenn eventually found 'the sound' he had been searching for and the band he formed hit the stage with In The Mood one can fully appreciate the huge appeal the band commanded in the 1930s and into the early 1940s and today still, the glorious music with its unique formula is enjoyed by Miller aficionados globally.

So very sad that the talented Miller died, in his musical prime. On that fateful night of 15 December 1944 , the plane he boarded to Paris went missing over the Channel.

However, the legacy he left the world is priceless and in this fabulous show, Tommy Steele brings Glenn to life and boy, does Tommy deliver; a consummate showman who has been wowing his fans since the 1950's with his genial style and flair . . . and whatever you are on, we all want some!

With excellent support from the talented ensemble, this show will put you well and truly in the mood. For an uplifting, feel good evening, this show is a must. And what a treat to have some imaginative choreographed tap numbers. Love it!

All credit to directors Bob Thomson and Bill Kenwright, the boys in the excellent band and of course, the inimitable Glenn Miller.

Runs to Saturday 27 August 27th

Elizabeth M Smith

23-08-16 

 

A fitting tribute to a star

****

YOU’VE got to hand it to former teen idol Tommy Steele for his performance as legendary American bandleader and trombonist Glenn Miller.

Although approaching his 80th birthday in December and, with wispy grey hair and a not so spritely on his pins these days, he looks a bit like your favourite granddad, he is still a real pro.

Tommy works the audience particularly well, turning to chat to them at suitable moments and leads the cast and the customers in a rousing finale with numbers like Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, I’ve Got a Gal from Kalamazoo and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.

At one point in the show, when he is referring to Miller’s phenomenal musical output, he chuckles: “Never mind him . . . I’m knackered”. He mimes playing the piano and trombone pretty well, too.

It’s easy to see why Tommy hesitated when offered the role, and some might feel a little uncomfortable with those romantic scenes with young wife-to-be Helen Burger in the first act, but Abigail Jaye, who sings beautifully, deals with the situation tactfully and makes a considerable impact.

The very charming ex pop star pensioner and this musical really hit the spot just before the interval when the superb orchestra all appear together on stage to play the memorable Moonlight Serenade, and they excel later when becoming Major Miller’s wartime band, continuing to play during an air raid with bombs exploding nearby. That’s courage.

Other huge hits to thrill the audience include In the Mood, Pennsylvania 6-5000 and Little Brown Jug, while Tommy is indebted to the outstanding group of singer-dancers who join him in so many of the important numbers.

Glenn Miller’s exceptional talent was tragically lost to the world when his plane disappeared over the English channel during a flight to entertain the troops in Paris in 1944.This musical is a fitting tribute to a great musician.

Directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright, the show runs to 27.08.16

Paul Marston

23-08-16 

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