Theatre reviewUltra Swing Lounge
Hunter Lifestyle, at the Civic Theatre, Newcastle
February 24 and 25
THE five years that have passed since the previous Ultra Swing Lounge show was staged have done nothing to reduce the style and pleasure of this bright and lively tribute to the swing-style musical shows that dazzled audiences in the 1930s and 40s. And while singers Daniel Stoddart and Steve Hudson, who have been with the shows since the first in 2004, joked at an early stage about putting on weight, their performances are as svelte as ever.
They and the other member of the singing trio, Rob McDougall, showed when presenting numbers such as Call Me Irresponsible and I Did It My Way just how timeless such numbers can be. And while they generally wore dinner suits, the colourful Latin American style garb they had in I Go To Rio, especially that of Stoddart, added to the amusement. Stoddart’s later red coat adornment in Mac the Knife was in line with the street delivery of the ballad in The Threepenny Opera, with two dancers as agile passers-by.
The ballroom dancers, Aric Yegudkin and Masha Belash, and Julian Caillon and Daria Walczak, added to the charm when all on stage in numbers including In the Mood, and as pairs and individuals. Tap dancer Tristan Fletcher never put a foot wrong in his pieces that included dancing to the band number Bojangles. Guest singer Amy Vee, performing with the male singers, certainly showed They Can’t Take That Away From Me. And the skills of the 22 band members, under musical director and pianist Greg Paterson, came through in the accompaniments, including McDougall’s moving I’ll Be Seeing You, which was predominantly backed by strings and piano.
Producer and director, Phil Collins, kept the show moving briskly along, with the brief comments and jokes delivered by the male vocal trio between numbers adding to the fun, and charming actions that included Hudson, accompanied by a female dancer, moving among women in the audience and handing them bunches of flowers, during the rendition of The Way You Look Tonight. Set and lighting designer Scott Travis had the stage as an elegant multi-level verandah, with two marble-like pillars on the top level and a backdrop of a starry night sky, with the colours changing to match the nature of each song.