glen miller

The Glenn Miller Story

Malvern Theatres

****

THIS swinging musical is the life, fame and untimely vanishing of America’s most famous big band leader.

It’s been more than seventy years since Glenn Miller went missing in action over the English Channel as he flew to Paris to entertain the troops during the Second World War and what a story.

One of the most iconic musical figures of the 20th century is told on stage after the idea formed over a meal between friends producer/director, Bill Kenwright and Britain's first teen idol, rock and roll star, Tommy Steele.

The first act skips over Miller's early years as his musical development took a new step every time his family moved around the states. First his father buying him a mandolin, which he soon traded for an old horn and finally how he started playing the trombone as a member of a town band.

It opens in an aircraft hangar just before his fateful flight and we are introduced to Tommy Steele whose adoration for Glenn Miller clearly means a lot to this self-confessed song and dance man, who plays a guy through his twenties to his early death at 40.

A spectacular and talented 16 piece orchestra and a full supporting company of sensational performers takes us back to the era of big band which was expertly played, sang and danced to by the ensemble cast.

The story moves to his struggle to the top, moving to Los Angeles then on to New York City where he studied music theory and composition with Joseph Schillinger and finally marrying his childhood sweetheart Helen Burger played by the wonderful Abigail Jaye.

And the secret of his success, Miller gave his band a distinctive sound, this aspect made his orchestra's music instantly recognisable, distinguishing it from that of other bands at the time.

The second half begins at the peak of his civilian career when he decided to join the war effort, forsaking a sizable income, Miller went on to earn numerous medals via his message of there’s no expression of freedom quite so sincere as music.

The story of his life in the military is told with a band on stage and dancers. Musical numbers throughout both acts featured the classics In the Mood and Pennsylvania 6-5000, It Don’t Mean a Thing if You Ain’t Got That Swing and Sing Sing Sing.

Next to a letter from home, he was described as the greatest morale builder in European Operations as his 50-piece Army Air Force Band visited England in the summer of 1944 playing to the soldiers with more than 800 performances in just a few months.

A great finale sing-a-long had the attention of the whole audience so we deservedly got more, with a repeat of Sing Sing Sing.

The Glenn Miller story is fantastically interesting, with Tommy Steele’s performance and interaction, giving this musical real swing! To 24-09-16.

Johnathan Gray

20-09-16 

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