Monday, July 16, 2012


Composer Johnny Burke was known for his cheerful, breezy, humorous and romantic style of music, music that consumed almost his entire lifetime.  What better way to wile away a summer afternoon or evening then to be entertained in a salute to this talented man in a delightful selection of his hits neatly packaged as “Swinging on a Star.”

Playhouse on Park in West Hartford has your air-conditioned seat all fluffed and ready for you until Sunday, July 29 as they present this beautifully crafted musical tribute.

Ten young, talented singers and dancers are eager to introduce you to Mr. Burke’s style and lyrics as they celebrate the man and his music.  Come see and hear more than three dozen terrific numbers brought to colorful life through the lovely voices and fancy footwork of Kevin Barlowski, Dakota Dutcher, Hillary Ekwall, Marissa Famiglietti, Shannon Farrell, Amanda Forker, MacKenzie Friedmann, Jenna Levitt, Spencer Pond and Scott Scaffidi.

Written by Michael Leeds, “Swinging on a Star” is organized in a series of seven musical vignettes starting at a Chicago speakeasy in the roaring 1920’s, where hot jazz, flappers, bathtub gin and tunes like “You’re Not the Only Oyster in the Stew,” “Ain’t It a Shame about Mame” and “Doctor Rhythm” prove to be the cat’s meow.

Soon the dark days of the Depression intrude on the festivities but tunes of hope like “Pennies from Heaven,” “When Stanislaus Got Married,” a Polish wedding gone humorously awry, a tale of a two year old’s temper tantrum in “His Rocking Horse Ran Away” and a trio of abandoned suitors in “Annie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” lighten the mood.

Moving to a 1935 Radio Show we are treated to an inebriated Vicky Voyay, delightfully portrayed by Amanda Forker, delivering an hilarious rendition of “What Does It Take to Make You Take to Me” while the ensuing USO Show is all red, white and blue patriotic with “Thank Your Lucky Stars and Stripes.”

The musical voyage continues in Act II with a ballroom, a supper club and a fun visit to Morocco with our old friends Bob, Bing and Dorothy.  Conducting this fine song fest is Darlene Zoller as director and choreographer.  The lively band consists of Colin Britt and Evan Roider sharing the piano and conducting honors, with Andrew Studenski on flute, clarinet and sax, Kurt Kumme and Tucker Barney on trumpet, Chris Langhans on bass and Adam Holtzberg on percussion.

For tickets ($32.50, students and seniors $30.00), call  Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900, ex. 10 or go online to to check for all the cool summer offerings.  Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

On Main Stage Mondays from 6 – 8 p.m., head next door to A. C. Petersen Farms Restaurant where the singing wait staff from Playhouse on Park will serenade you with show tunes while you enjoy your burgers, lobster rolls and ice cream sundaes.  Be sure to get a photo of the great ice cream festooned cow outside.

Grab a shiny star under the glittering disco ball and swing along with Johnny Burke and friends on a sentimental musical journey sure to be a highlight of your summer fun.

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