This summer, audiences are invited to visit the Huron Country Playhouse to jump and jive withan original production that swings, scats, stomps, and soars through the most memorable tunes of the greatest crooners and songbirds. The Canadian premiere of Big Band Legends runs for three weeks beginning tonight, June 27th through July 14th.
Backed by an all-star orchestra, this upbeat production is packed with classics from such icons as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, The Maguire Sisters and Nat King Cole, mid-century stalwarts Tony Bennett, Neil Diamond, Paul Anka, Doris Day, and Bobby Darin, and modern day superstars Harry Connick, Jr. and Michael Bublé.
An innovative musical extravaganza, Big Band Legends also pays tribute to World War II veterans in a unique segment that salutes the Canadian Forces with a medley of songs from the Department of National Defense Entertainment Shows for The Navy, The Army, and The Air Force. Audiences will have a rare opportunity to hear the music that was integral in three Canadian Services Shows: “Meet the Navy”, “The Army Show with Wayne and Shuster”, and the “RCAF Captains of The Clouds”.
Artistic Director Alex Mustakas, who conceived Twist & Shout: The British Invasion, Legends, Country Legends, and Dance Legends, follows suit with this fifth installment of the wildly popular Legends series.
Gino Berti, who has collaborated with Mustakas throughout the Legends franchise, returns as the choreographer for Big Band Legends. Elizabeth Baird is the Music Director. Set Design is by Simon Day with Lighting Design by Kevin Fraser and Costume Design by Nicole Del Cul. Visual Effects are designed by Dan Payne. Most notably, distinguished music icon Howard Cable provides orchestrations and vocal arrangements.
“This is truly a momentous occasion,” says Mustakas. “Howard Cable has played a dominant role in keeping this extraordinary style of music alive through remarkable collaborations with such stars as Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee, Bob Hope and others. It’s an infectious style of music that is back in the mainstream through the popularity of current leading icons like Harry Connick Jr. and Michael Bublé.”
Mustakas is humbled and thrilled to be working alongside a true musical pioneer, and to that end has assembled a first-rate ensemble of talented performers for this much-anticipated production including Drayton Entertainment favorites The Mantini Sisters.
The dynamic cast also includes Canadian song and dance man Eddie Glen, whom audiences may remember as Nathan Detroit in Drayton Entertainment’s hit production of Guys and Dolls last season. Glen has appeared in numerous musicals over the course of his extensive career including several productions in London’s West End.
Joining Glen is Michael Killinger, who appeared in Swing!, and was most recently seen as Mr. Lyons in Blood Brothers. An exceptional talent, Killinger is also credited for compiling many of the medleys in Big Band Legends.
Michael Vanhevel makes his professional theatre debut in the production. At only 20 years old, Vanhevel was discovered on YouTube by Mustakas after he posted videos of himself singing various Frank Sinatra tunes. The Grand Bend native is quickly becoming a sought after talent, having recently performed a highly praised concert at Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre.
Rounding out the cast are dancers Kimberly O’Neill and Jesse Weafer. O’Neill was the choreographer of the gold medal winning Canadian National Jazz and Modern Teams and was featured in Drayton Entertainment’s dazzling production of Dance Legends. Weafer has appeared in numerous musicals on stage and in film, and was on the hit CTV series So You Think You Can Dance Canada Season 3 as one of the top 16 contestants.