Swing Heil premiered the weekend before last. We gave two performances of the show in a single, exhausting day (having moved everything into the theatre that morning), but were delighted with how well it was received, not least with a sell-out show in the evening. The Oxford Times previewed the show and later gave it a 4* review, commenting that ‘…it inevitably invites comparison with Cabaret and, remarkably, holds up very well against so mighty a prototype….Hot jazz numbers and smoky melodies punctuate the action, splendidly accompanied by a three piece band’. I’m not sure the comparison is all that relevant bar the setting: they’re very different shows in most ways. But still nice to receive that accolade.
There was a lengthy review in Oxford Daily Info, which ended by remarking that ‘This was the kind of show that leaves behind it regret that its manifestation was so fleeting; in this case a mere two performances. Swing Heil! ought to run and run in another venue – why not in an extended form? Vorwarts und aufwarts! The reviewer found the narrative arc too condensed for so short a show, which is probably a fair point, but was full of praise for the cast and production as a whole: ‘I don’t know that this cascade of plot developments is really needed, but in any case, Swing Heil!’s narrative is not the real point here it is many times outweighed by the quality of all the other elements of the show – staging, direction, music, songs, choreography and acting.’ He particularly enjoyed the music, writing that ‘the terrific songs by Alex Thomas had the harsh but tuneful quality, nodding to Kurt Weill and also John Kander’s Cabaret music, that was perfectly suited to time, place and events.’
So it’s all over for now, but there have been mentions of a possible tour to Germany at some point, which would be exciting. For now I’m back into WWI mode, putting the finishing touches to a script for MCS’s commemorative production, Reflections, which will be staged in November. Some of the musical numbers from Ivor and I are featuring, too, with new arrangements by Samuel Pegg, with whom I’m looking forward to collaborating. Term starts in a week, so I’d better get cracking…