Start spreading the news! Big Band Legends, a dazzling new production that honors the great crooners and songbirds from Bing Crosby to Michael Bublé, is entertaining theatregoers of all ages at the Huron Country Playhouse through July 14th.
“Audiences are definitely in for a real treat,” says Artistic Director Alex Mustakas. “Big Band Legends is chock full of chart-topping hits from past to present, and the talent on stage is extraordinary.”
Backed by an all-star orchestra, this fun-filled musical extravaganza features a hit parade of songs from such icons as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney to Tony Bennett, Neil Diamond and Bobby Darin, along with Harry Connick, Jr. and more.
As the Creator and Director of this Canadian premiere, Alex Mustakas has assembled a stellar group of performers and top-notch musicians to breathe new life into the big band hits. He does an exemplary job of integrating the elements of music, dance, comedy, and visual effects to create a stunning spectacle that will have audiences singing their way out of the theatre.
Mustakas gives each artist a special moment to shine and the great musical songbirds of the past eighty years are represented by Canada’s own enchanting trio, The Mantini Sisters. Sandra, Barbara and Ann Mantini showcase fantastic harmonies covering such big band classics as The Boswell Sisters’ “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” The Andrews Sisters’ “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön,” and The Maguire Sisters’ “Sugartime.”
The Mantinis are equally strong individually. Ann Mantini channels Doris Day in “Que Sera Sera” and Vera Lynn in “We’ll Meet Again”, while Barbara Mantini is suitably sassy in Helen Ward’s “Goody Goody” and Peggy Lee’s “Fever.” Sandra Mantini delivers a playful version of Sarah Vaughn’s “Lullaby of Birdland” and a heartfelt rendition of Connie Francis’ “Where The Boys Are.”
Numerous beloved crooners from the early years of jazz and big band through the popular music of today are embodied by a dynamic group of male performers. Harry Connick Jr.’s “It Had To Be You,” is delivered by the vocal prowess of 20-year old newcomer Michael Vanhevel, who continues to wow the audience with Frank Sinatra’s hits “I’ve Got The World On A String,” and “Fly Me To The Moon.” A native of Grand Bend, Mustakas first discovered the young singer on YouTube when Vanhevel posted videos of himself singing various Sinatra tunes.
Adding ample humour to this upbeat production is Canadian song and dance man, Eddie Glen. An audience favourite, Glen demonstrates remarkable versatility in Big Band Legends and his comedic timing is spot-on. Glen often has the audience in stitches, especially performing Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” and Danny Kaye’s comic tune, “Tongue Twisters.”
Seasoned crooner Michael Killinger stands out in Bing Crosby’s “Learn To Croon” at the very top of the production, setting the appropriate tone for what is to come. His interpretations of “Don’t Fence Me In,” Perry Como’s “Papa Loves Mambo” and Barry Manilow’s “Can’t Smile Without You” are spot on. In addition to charming theatregoers, Killinger is credited for compiling the song medleys for Big Band Legends.