Lawrence Community Theatre opens its new season with the swingin’ hot “Club Morocco,” which uses the hits of great big-band leaders such as Glen Miller, Cab Calloway, Artie Shaw and Tommy Dorsey to narrate a 1940s-era, film-noir spoof.
The story revolves around Frank McCann, a private investigator with a sordid history, who comes back to settle a score with club owner Torch Tangier.
In a fun and entertaining change of pace, this show focuses on audience participation. The cast encourages people in the seats to dance to songs like “Jump, Jive and Wail,” “In The Mood” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.”
Dennis Tyner plays the gritty McCann with a style reminiscent of the great detectives of the silver screen.
His cool presence and easy manner help the audience believe they are spectators in a night club, sipping dry martinis and watching the drama of the regulars unfold.
The club’s ingénue is the sweet and sultry Nugget Rialto, brought to life by Amber Dickinson. She displays great character and charm in her performance, highlighted by a stunning version of “Stormy Weather.”
Dickinson is joined by LCT veteran Amy Reinert, who plays the bold and sassy club headliner, Velvet St. Regis. Reinert’s strong stage presence and passion turns in several great performances.
A shining focal point of the show is Henry Mosely, who livens up the stage as the jive-talking band leader, Chick Valentine. In his debut performance with LCT, Mosely captivates with a rocking rendition of “Minnie the Moocher,” keeping the crowd jiving until the end.
Fellow newcomer Butch Wilkerson plays the band’s tenor (and jive-to-English translator) Bobby LaRue. Wilkerson and Mosely bring a fabulous energy, setting a great backdrop for the other action.
The Swing Street All Stars all but steal the show, performing with the cast swing-era hits like “String of Pearls,” “Under My Skin” and “One For the Road.” Headed up by musical director Mary Baker, their talent captures the crowd’s attention and builds a strong backbone for this engaging, comical show.
Choreographer Ivory Mazur creates several tremendous dance numbers using a solid cast of young dancers who swing and flip with aptitude and flair. The group tap number during “I Got Rhythm” is a particular favorite.
Director Mary Doveton brings a great mix of new talent and gifted veterans to the stage, resulting in a fun and entertaining show (even if you don’t have the courage to cut a rug). The exciting atmosphere, good music and sparkling costumes make for an enjoyable and memorable evening.
“Club Morocco” runs through Oct. 4. Visit theatrelawrence.com for more information.