If you are looking for an old fashioned and holiday musical “Christmas of Swing” is where you should head! The show is playing now through December 23rd at the History Theatre in St. Paul. When the show started, it felt as if I was transported back to World War II and was being entertained by not only the loveable Andrews Sisters but Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Lou Levy, and others.
Walking into the theater I felt as if it was Christmas time. The stage was decorated very well with a Christmas tree, ornaments, holly, and lights. The band was on stage the entire time and they had red bows on their music stands that helped them blend in well. The sisters wore black dresses with white polka dots and red coats. Red was the color that tied the sets, people, and props together. It also gave off the holiday feel.
In the mid 1940’s USO Camp Shows were being performed all over the USA and overseas. The Andrews Sisters teamed up with big name stars to entertain the troops. In 1945 the sisters went on an eight week tour and performed for thousands of men in uniform. “Christmas of Swing” gives an insight to what one of those shows may have looked like. Although the show was mostly a musical review, they spliced in little bits of acting and letters from soldiers. It gave it a nice feel of what life must have been like for soldiers fighting in the war.
The cast was small with only six members. The three Andrews Sisters were a beautiful singing trio. Ruthie Baker who played Patty Andrews was my favorite. Her blonde hair, winning smile, and glimmering eyes made her the center of attention. She was the most standout sister in many ways. Jen Burleigh -Bentz played LaVerne Andrews. Although she did not have any singing solos, she was given the most lines of the sisters and did a great job with her part. Stacey Lindell played Maxene Andrews. She has a few solos that were very pretty including “Oh, Holy Night”. Both Bill Scharpen and Mark Rosenwinkel played multiple roles. They did a great job changing characters and embodying the different people. Raymond Berg acted as the piano player as well as the small role of Vic Shoen.
Each song and dance was delightful. The sisters sang in three part harmony through out the show and blended well together. There were so many numbers I have no idea how they remembered all the choreography! After the bows they even did a mash-up of songs which was a nice treat for the end of the show.
To get in the Christmas spirit head to the History Theatre for “Christmas of Swing”! The theatre is located in downtown St. Paul and is connected to McNally Smith College of Music. Take a look at their website for ticket information, deals, and special events.