Last Sunday afternoon I took my parents to see The Glenn Miller Orchestra at The Civic Theatre. What a splendid time we had!
I’ve always enjoyed music from the 30s and 40s, especially standards and swing/jazz. It wasn’t music that was played much growing up – ours was a rock household through and through, but I remember my grandparents playing or singing the tunes. I knew Mum would enjoy the afternoon but was surprised when Dad asked to come too. They had a ball, much leg jiggling and hand tapping was seen, and possibly the odd singing along and maybe a few tears. Or maybe that was just me.
The Orchestra itself was incredibly professional, not a bum note at any point, in fact the entire show was one of the most professional, musically, I have seen. It was not a large orchestra, about 17 or 18 musicians, but boy they produced a grand sound. Fat brass as I call it, bending those notes and knocking it out the ballpark.
The band leader was a knowledgeable chap, with a great voice and sense of humour. Added into the performances were two soloists, a man and a woman. He was pure Sinatra in sound and she was as elegant as Billie Holliday with the most stunning costumes and beautiful voice. Three young girls in their late teens, did songs a la The Andrews Sisters, and their harmonies were sublime, perfect victory rolls, the cutest costumes, and swing moves. Rounding out the group were 4 dancers, swinging and being tossed around the stage, again great costumes. All of this added to the atmosphere of the show quite beautifully.
But it was all about the music, songs either written by Miller or arranged by him and the orchestra. Highlights were Moonlight Serenade, String of Pearls, Don’t sit under the apple tree, At Last, and Rhapsody in Blue.
Rhapsody in Blue was unexpected, a Gershwin tune and the ONE song I cannot live without. If someone told me I could never hear that piece again, I think it’s over the cliff for me! I had no idea Miller had arranged such a sweet albeit truncated version of it, it definitely brought tears to my eyes.
And of course show stoppers like Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Chattanooga Choo Choo, and In the Mood. They brought the house down!
And then, there was the audience. Mostly an older audience, but I loved their reaction to songs, polite clapping, lots of gasping and ahhing as songs were announced, it was marvelous. And then there was this old guy, sitting along from us, who yelled out for a song very loudly at the end. That made me laugh. A good audience also makes a show, and this was a very good one.
Two sets that came in at just over 2 hours, we were thoroughly entertained and left the theatre, beaming grand smiles, humming those tunes, with a little skip in our step!