Bill Rudman loves the American musical with a reckless passion that might be deemed felonious if it were applied to any other object of affection. And he shares that passion on a regular basis through the concerts produced by his organization, The Musical Theater Project.
This is where a review might usually say the TMPT is a wonderful secret that few people know about, but that would be wrong. TMPT is wonderful, indeed, but lots of people know about it, since their concerts often sell out.
That was the case for Swing’s the Thing! recently at the Ohio Theater in PlayhouseSquare, co-produced by TMPT and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra. This salute to the heart of the swing era—from the mid-1930s to the end of World War II—features great live music provided by the Joe Hunter Trio and a few horns from the CJO.
Handling the vocals are a pair “girl and boy singers,” as the big bands used to dub their crooners. The superb Erin Keckan handles her songs with effortless, spot-on professionalism. And Tony Sias exudes loads of cool, especially on a song from “Street Scene” by Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes. Even though Sias occasionally drifts off key, the charm of the production is never tarnished.
Of course, much of that charm comes from Rudman himself, who always narrates these journeys into our musical past. Rudman’s mellifluous voice poses a metaphorical challenge: It isn’t just a velvet glove—it’s more like a velvet glove nestled inside a cashmere mitten and wrapped in yards of vicuna.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.