A true revue in the traditional sense of the word, without even the pretense of a plot to link its Swing-era dance numbers, this show was not all that different a phenomenon from Contact, though it did feature live vocal performances and thus can be quite confidently qualified as a musical in the traditional sense of the word. Then again, that might not be such a good thing, as in contrast to Contact‘s groundbreaking fusion of drama and pure dance, this piece came off as little more than what was already a formulaic theatrical cliche…the plotless song-and-dance piece with recycled music and little to no original ideas.
It’s another sign of the craze for dance pieces on Broadway at the time, which would take something of a back seat after 2001, though it was still visible in works like Twyla Tharpe’s Movin’ Out. It also probably has a certain link to the Swing Revival in late-Nineties pop music, although it uses actual authentic period Swing tunes rather than the watered-down sound of the novelty Pop-Swing songs like “Zoot Suit Riot” that dominated that movement.
The dancing was by all accounts splendid, although the fairly inconsequential cast album that was made reveals that the singing performances were less interesting. Granted, Cabaret legend Ann Hampton Callaway and Broadway goddess Laura Benanti are as terrific as they always are on their solos, although frankly there are plenty of better places to hear Callaway sing standards. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast lacks individuality on these overexposed standards, leading to the show’s musical element coming off as fairly generic.
The piece’s lack of content and originality made it something of a disturbing signpost to critics at the time, who were convinced Broadway was going to drown in a sea of recycled material, but today it can be recognized as harmless, if nothing else. That said, while it probably made for a reasonably entertaining evening at the time, it is a product of trends that have become discredited (and not without reason) on Broadway today. And from a historical perspective (which is the only one that matters at this point, as the chances of this piece ever getting revived are next to nonexistent), it was ultimately inconsequential, and it is of little interest to anyone now that its moment has passed.
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