Review by Danny Gaisin
The forties; a time when there WASN’T an automatic transmission; or TV’s; jet planes; 33⅓rpm LP’s; six-figure homes; push –button phone dialing; single-pane windshields or sports bras. What there was WAS, radio; Big Bands, family dinners, dances and some memorable music. “THE ALL NIGHT STRUT”is a trip back to the WWII years, and the ethos of a world emerging from Depression and into a conflict unique in history. Music played a big role as a psychological counterpart to the emotional trepidation felt in most communities.
For those of a certain age (like me), Music Theatre Mississauga’s staging is a nostalgic trip back to re-visit with the icons of the era. The lyrics & compositions will also delight the boomer generation. STRUT may be the concept of Fran Charnas, but it is the direction of David Charchalis; the choreography of Lori Hall and the on-stage music of John Pugh & his band that deserve full measure of credit for making this such a sure-fire hit. The pace is rapid, the flow melds from musical scenario to decade change; and the song selections that are emphasized demonstrate indulgence for their symbolism. Charchalis incorporates a large screen backdrop that projects photographs of the icons of each period…some of whom I met as a kid; newsreels of events and representative headlines; Multi-media and multi-effective.
The choreography is not super-challenging but sufficiently animated for the more skilled terpsichorean cast members. The ‘Minnie the Moocher’ section is extremely well performed and will no doubt have audiences choralizing the ‘Hi di hidi hidi HI’ refrain as I did [much to my wife’s chagrin]. The Chattanooga Choo Choo & ‘In the Mood’ opening numbers are upbeat and presented with such a positive attitude that viewers can’t help but respond favorably. The quartet for both of these is comprised of Kirk & Maria DePalma; Nick Mawer and Meredith Busteed. All four are highly charged, animated and sell their numbers.
There is a interesting movement ending Act I that iterates the creation of a Broadway musical… the play-within-a-play gambit. By utilizing the M-C ing “Coda’ , played by rRay Chaayato allot crew assignments and then see them attempt to stereotype their jobs is a directorial hoot. Chaaya’s character( & he personally) is a magician; a mime; a dancer; and obviously a body-builder and is a major contributor to the success of Strut.
The costumes are outstanding and representative. (Hat #2 for the director) He also designed the set and his 4th hat is Stage Manager…Benny Hill – you’re BAAAACK! Have to mention the credible hairstyles courtesy of Mark Jones. Sound & lighting effects are intrinsic and are almost flawless. Love the bit when Coda chases the red spot! ALL NIGHT STRUT is entertaining and fun. It’s on-stage until the 28th and deserves a full house sellout for the Meadowvale venue… the show SWINGS!