Trading on the mega-popular swing dance revival of the late 1990’s, Swing! ran a respectable year and two months on Broadway and was nominated for the Tony for Best Musical in 2000 despite not having a book. (Another dance musical, Contact won that year.) And when the Mac-Haydn first staged it back in 2004 I liked it very much, even though I am not in favor of calling a non-stop series of songs and dance numbers with absolutely no characters, dialogue, or plot a “musical.” So I was both pleased and nervous to see it back on the roster this summer.
I was pleased because I had happy memories of a great show, and nervous because none of the people I had seen in 2004 would be on the stage this time around. Swing! is a true ensemble show, the Mac-Haydn annually hires a core group of singers and dancers who appear in solo roles and ensemble numbers throughout the season.
Generally, by mid-July, I would recognize the ensemble members and have my favorites picked out. This year, not so much. Not that the 2011 company isn’t talented, but they aren’t stellar. I can recognize very few, even the ones who have impressed me in solo turns, like Victoria Broadhurst and Carl Hulden.