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BWW Review: Gateway Playhouse's Swing! puts you “In the Mood” to experience the music of a classic era.

Jul. 5, 2017  

Summer has arrived and a new summer season at The Gateway Playhouse has begun. Gateway Playhouse is a fantastic venue that always brings the best of Broadway to Long Island. My first experience with Gateway's productions began in 2009, when they put on a production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Saturday Night Live alum Joe Piscopo as Lawrence Jameson. The Gateway Playhouse's productions, along with The Studio Theater's productions, are as close to Broadway as you'll ever get on Long Island. Recently, Gateway just completed their run of the musical Swing!

Swing! is a two act dance revue that combines the music of the big band era with high energy dancing. The show features a wide array of dance styles set to classic songs like: "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing!)", "Cry Me a River", and "In the Mood". Stephanie Gandolfo, Kate McCann, Maceo Oliver & JP Qualters portrayed the four vocalists that guide you through the musical journey and did a fine job. Qualters had the essence of Cab Calloway; he acted, sang and moved very much like the leader of a big band. Kate McCann was by far the star vocalist of the show. McCann's version of "I'll Be Seeing You" was perfection and she sang the poop out of Arlen & Mercer's "Blues in the Night". Stephanie Gandolfo was absolutely adorable and surprising during her introductory number, a medley of "Two and Four" and "Hit Me with a Hot Note." She began the song as an awkward girl that did not have the best voice and then let her hair down, literally, and became this beautiful, fabulous singing diva with a great voice.

Gateway's production of Swing! featured Ekatarina Fedosova and DamIan Whitewood of Dancing with the Stars. However, they were definitely not the "stars" of the evening. I was a little annoyed to see these two names receive star billing, when they were barely in the show. If you attended the performance expecting to see the dancers from Dancing with the Stars, you would have been unsatisfied and would have felt duped by the promos. However, you would not have been at all disappointed in the overall production. Every audience member left the theater with a smile on their face!

The true dancing stars were Samantha & Brian Lawton and Akina Kitazawa. The Lawtons served as dancers and dance captains for this production. Their numbers were flawless especially "Kitchen Mechanics Night Out". Kitazawa was equally flawless each time she graced the stage. However, their was one number where she truly shined; Kitazawa had a dance-off with Ekatarina Fedosova during the number "Show Me What You Got". Kitazawa was the clear winner and outdanced the Dancing with the Stars star.

The true stars of the overall production was the incredible set, which served as a time portal and made you feel like you were watching performers in the original Cotton Club, and the amazing band under the direction of Robert Felstein. The band was truly unbelieveable and strong. The mind-blowing brass section consisted only of John Brierly on trumpet and Will Marrin on trombone, yet they sounded like a brass section of ten; they were both incredible. Gateway Playhouse was literally able to help their audiences "swing" into summer with this production.

Be sure to check out Gateway's other productions this summer including: On the Town starring Broadway stars Nick Adams (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) and Mary Stout from June 28- July 15, Mamma Mia starring Broadway, Film and TV star Patrick Cassidy from July 19 - August 5, and Little Shop of Horrors from Aug 23 - September 9. Cirque Eloize will also be performing their show ID from Aug 9 -Aug 13.

Tickets for these upcoming productions can be bought here .


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