Mix of new music and classic tunes `Swing' into town

Success: The women who run Chesapeake Music Hall appear to have another hit on their hands.

Review

Arundel Live

January 08, 2004|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Chesapeake Music Hall's production of Swing premieres the 1999 Broadway musical revue in this area and celebrates the ninth anniversary of the only dinner theater in Annapolis, with Sherry Kay Anderson now in her fifth year as sole owner.

Since assuming full responsibility for the theater five years ago, Anderson has enjoyed steadily increasing success. She attributes this success primarily to her business manager, Jami Adkins, who has completed two years in that capacity and has this month also been appointed general manager.

"I couldn't do without Jami, who has always been by my side and is such a rock," Anderson said.

Until this year, Anderson also was the choreographer for the music hall's productions. For Swing and the next show -- 42nd Street -- the choreography will be done by Jodi Adkins, daughter of Jami Adkins.

Of the only choreographer to replace her in the music hall's nine-year history, Anderson said, "I wouldn't turn the choreography over to anyone I didn't trust. I've watched Jodi develop her skills over the years, and I know how professional she is. It's been fascinating to watch this show come to life, and I can't wait to see what she does with the next show."

Women now make up most of the music hall's staff. In addition to Anderson and the Adkinses, the staff includes Heather Scheeler as head of marketing, Tere Fulmer in charge of the box office, Marsha Goldsmith as musical director and Susie Goebeler as stage manager

Anderson said she most enjoys discovering new talent and takes pride in their accomplishments -- such as David Covington's career in Tap Dogs and former CMH leading man David Reynolds joining the national touring company of Annie as Oliver Warbucks before becoming a regular performer at Toby's Dinner Theatre in Columbia.

Anderson also has a long association with gifted performers such as Carol Cohen, who will star as Dorothy Brock in the upcoming 42nd Street.

Delighted with the opportunity to choreograph Swing, Jodi Adkins said, "Swing dancing is not traditional and requires lots of energy. We've all learned the moves together."

In its production of Swing, Chesapeake Music Hall has a show that is not only new to this area, but makes what was old appear new again. Classic World War II-era tunes mix with "Bli-Blip," "Throw That Girl Around" and "Two and Four," all written by Ann Hampton Calloway for the 1999 Broadway musical.

From the opening number, "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," the stage teems with energy that builds from there. Classic oldies such as "Skylark," and "Blues in the Night" are given fresh treatment, with Heather Scheeler's mellow "Stompin' at the Savoy" an exciting peak of the evening.

There are several moments where song and dance combine to create stage artistry -- such as during "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Cry Me a River." Admirers of MGM's classic Gene Kelly musicals will find Jodi Adkins' "Harlem Nocturne" danced with Gare Edwards to be reminiscent of the work of the incomparable Cyd Charisse with its elegant, sexy grace.

Outstanding dancers include teen-agers Myles Park and Katie Harrington, who make splits, leaps and twirls look easy and like lots of fun. In addition to singer Scheeler, kudos are due Tamika Shoenice for "I'll Be Seeing You" and for superb dancing that exhibits a welcome comic flair.

Swing continues through Feb. 14. For reservations, call 410-626-7515.

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