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Featuring classic and contemporary arrangements of some of the most well-known songs from the jazz era, Swing! celebrates the music, dance, and brilliant artistry that fundamentally shifted ethnic and cultural barriers in America—and the world.
Directed and choreographed by Michelle Chassé
Music direction by Ned Rosenblatt
The 2:00 p.m. showing on December 4 and the 7:30 p.m. showing on December 7 are "pay what you can" performances, with a minimum of $5. This price is only available in person on the day of the show, starting at 12:00 p.m.
On behalf of the Theater Division and the entire Boston Conservatory at Berklee community, I am thrilled to welcome you to the second faculty-directed production of the 2022–2023 academic year, Swing!.
For the past several months, our team has been working tirelessly to bring this ambitious project to fruition. In an effort to engage with the City of Boston more directly and to provide an unprecedented opportunity for our students to perform in a state-of-the-art theater, we decided to produce one of this year’s shows in the beautiful Virginia Wimberly Theater. For this production, collaborating with our colleagues at Berklee College of Music was a top priority, and a number of great titles were under consideration. However, when a song from the original cast recording of Swing! randomly started playing on my drive into work one late summer morning, I knew that I had stumbled on our show.
You read that correctly…this show was picked in late summer! All of the creative genius you are about to see on the stage—the brilliant staging and choreography, the top-notch singing and playing, the evocative set and costumes, our fantastic lighting and sound design, the thoughtful and thorough dramaturgy—all of these elements (and more) have been envisioned, created, and produced in little more than three months. I am in awe of the artists and staff behind the scenes who have made this production such a success.
At the heart of everything we do is the cultivation and celebration of our student-artists. Year after year, Boston Conservatory is cited as having one of the preeminent theater training programs in the country, and you are about to see why. This production raises the bar for our Theater Division and the Conservatory, and is the beginning of what I know will be many more opportunities to produce with Berklee College of Music and our Calderwood friends. I am honored and humbled to welcome you to revel in their artistry.
So cheer, make lots of noise, and enjoy the history, music, dance, rhythms, sights, and sounds of Swing!.
—Jermaine Hill, Interim Dean of Theater, Boston Conservatory at Berklee
When I was first approached with directing and choreographing Swing!, I immediately tried to find the book. What exactly is Swing! about? What is the story?
I quickly realized that Swing! was not a book show, but rather a series of love letters between musicians and dancers. My question in seeking the core of the show became more about “swing,” the musical style—how does that music move you? How does it drive you? Swing! was created for and by the professional swing dancers that originated those roles; it is there that our show both departs from and also emulates the original concept. Our students are not professional swing dancers, but they can definitely swing dance and more; they can also sing, and they can also tell stories. Basically, they can do it all, and with aplomb. I decided to create a show with them and for them.
We also had an incredibly exciting opportunity to bridge Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music in a unique way: this is one of the very few Boston Conservatory theater performances where the director/choreographer is from the Conservatory and the music director is from the College, and all of the band’s musicians are students from the College. Working with Ned (our conductor), with his deep knowledge of and intense love for jazz singing and music, and with his talented College musicians, opened the doors to our version of Swing! in the 21st century of Boston Conservatory at Berklee—all while paying homage to the greats of the past. All you need to do is listen to Ella Fitzgerald to know she surrounded herself with incredible musicians to share in her storytelling.
In the first half of the show, we pay homage to traditional Lindy Hop dances and songs while also looking at how historically radical the Savoy Ballroom was—in the second act, we see where swing has taken us from the 1920s to today, but we’re still listening to each other as dancers and musicians and finding that common language. There is so much beauty in knowing that, even in the most turbulent and divisive of times; the only question you were asked as you entered the Savoy was: can you dance?
—Michelle Chassé, Director/Choreographer of Swing
The world of Swing! is predicated on an openness to create in relationship to and with music. The roots of the Lindy Hop at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem—alongside multiple other roots inclusive of Africanist jazz styles as well as European ballroom ones—grow into many branches based on regional influence, varying and evolving jazz aesthetics, generational innovation, and possibilities embraced in live performance.
Our production represents the generous invitation of swing music to embody stories of playful hybridization across jazz styles. We hope that in sharing such an abundant and inclusive set of songs and stories from the swing and neo-swing eras, we make good on the promise of swing in performance: of the indebtedness to African and Afro-Latine rhythms, of relationships, of healing, of flirtations, of farewells, of possibility. And of the equal parts pure delight and rigorous technique that comprise what 1998 Swing! director and choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett called this show’s message about swing: “You can't do it alone."
Coming together in relationship to music and to each other is truly the soul of swing. Nightlife, namely places where one could move to the music, provided a community-building counterpoint to the economic and social struggles of interwar America. Both the swing aesthetic and ethos enjoyed a far geographical reach following the skyrocket in popularity of jazz on the radio, stage, and screen. Under pressure both from a rising film market and war draft, swing dancing began to decline in the U.S. due to the inability of larger spaces to stay open; many variety entertainment houses would book tap dancers instead of swing dancers because they could perform in smaller spaces, even in front of movie screens as “coolers'' in between film showings. As a partnered dance, and one that thrived on symbiosis with orchestral groups, swing performers had a hard time staying in the same commercial rhythm that they had in the late 1930s. Nonetheless, swing has continued to challenge both Eurocentric expectations of movement and threats (at home and abroad) to freedom and to the reclamation of public space for expressions of radical joy.
—Alyssa Schmidt, Dramaturg, Swing
Scenes and Musical Numbers
(Opening) “Swing It, Brother, Swing” / “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing”—Full Company
“Airmail Special” / “Jersey Bounce” / “Opus One” / “Jumpin' at the Woodside”—Full Company
“Bounce Me, Brother (With A Solid Four)”—Bailey Greemon and Company
“Two and Four” / “Hit Me With a Hot Note and Watch Me Bounce”—Sylvia Blaise Taylor, Nate Walsh, Kees Hoekendijk, Tyler Moran, Ian Viciedo, Ryan Vogt
“Rhythm Cross” / “Throw That Girl Around”—Willem Guenther, Tyler Moran, Vincent Bennett, Company
“Latin Sequence”—Karina Gonzalez, Jaden Tai Martinez, Ian Viciedo, Company
“Bli-Blip”—Vincent Bennett, Annaliese Wilbur
“Sky Lark”—Ellen Roberts
“Kitchen Mechanic's Night Out”—Derek Taylor, Bailey Greemon
“Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy”—Jaden Tai Martinez, Kees Hoekendijk, Ian Viciedo, Company
“G.I. Jive”—Karina Gonzalez, Meghan Hoey, Ali Ragazzini
“I Got A Girl In Kalamazoo” / “I'm Gonna Love You Tonight”—Kees Hoekendijk, Ian Viciedo, Sylvia Blaise Taylor, Company
“I'll Be Seeing You”—Ryan Vogt, Tyler Moran, Willem Guenther
“U.S.O. Finale: In the Mood” / “Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree”—Full Company
“Swing It, Brother, Swing”—Full Company
“Dancers In Love”—Kees Hoekendijk, Ali Ragazzini
“Cry Me A River”—Julia Grace Kelley, Cameron Pagnani
SCENE 5: “Bill's Bounce”—Kristin Greve, Willem Guenther, Kees Hoekendijk, Meghan Hoey, Jaden Tai Martinez, Tyler Moran, Nate Walsh, Sylvia Taylor, Ian Viciedo, Ryan Vogt, Annaliese Wilber
“Blues in the Night”—Kristin Greve
“Harlem Nocturne”—Bailey Greemon, Meghan Hoey, Ellen Roberts
“All of Me” / “I Won't Dance”—Connor Buonaccorsi, Karina Gonzalez
“Stompin' at the Savoy”—Rory Shirley, Steven Eckloff, Kaylie Wood
“Swing It, Brother, Swing” / “Sing Sing Sing” / “It Don’t Mean a Thing If it Ain’t Got That Swing”—Full Company
(Bows) “Woodchopper’s Ball”
In this production of Swing!, students perform as themselves.
Julia Grace Kelley
Jaden Tai Martinez
Sylvia Blaise Taylor
Ryan Vogt – Dance Captain
Kaylie Wood – Dance Captain
Conducted by Ned Rosenblatt
Artur Wolynec Vienna
Ned Rosenblatt (faculty)
All band members are Berklee College of Music students unless otherwise noted
About the Artists
Michelle Chassé, director/choreographer, is a theater professor at Boston Conservatory at Berklee, where she is involved in the Theater Division’s dance program. In addition to her teaching and mentoring responsibilities, she has directed and choreographed numerous Boston Conservatory theater productions, including A Chorus Line (2018), Catch Me If You Can (2016), and On The Town in (2014). Learn more about Chassé.
Tommy Coye, associate choreographer, has been a dance educator for more than 35 years and teaching at Boston Conservatory since 2009. He has had an extensive performance career, both nationally and internationally, and has choreographed for stage and screen. Notably, he choreographed the motion pictures The Heat with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and Black Mass with Johnny Depp. Learn more about Coye.
Ned J. Rosenblatt, music director, is a professor in Berklee College of Music’s Voice Department. Rosenblatt’s vocal jazz ensembles at Berklee have received national acclaim, winning numerous DownBeat Student Music Awards and having performed at multiple Jazz Education Network and ACDA Conferences. Learn more about Rosenblatt.
Alyssa Schmidt, dramaturg, has served as a freelance dramaturg for the past decade and a production dramaturg at Boston Conservatory at Berklee since 2015. As a neo-swing-enthusiastic child of the '90s and a grown-up theater historian, Schmidt has been delighted to engage with illuminative research on the context, dances, and music of the swing era. Learn more about Schmidt.
Jenna McFarland Lord, scenic designer, is an Elliot Award-winning designer (BLKS, Speakeasy Stage Company, 2022) who works throughout New England for companies such as SpeakEasy Stage, Gloucester Stage, Lyric Stage, Actors Shakespeare Project, New Repertory Theatre, Greater Boston Stage, Central Square Theatre, Wheelock Family Theatre, and more. She also designed Off-Broadway at La Mama and The New York Playwrights Lab.
Arthur Oliver, costume designer, is an internationally recognized designer whose work has included world-wide broadcast television and designs for theater, film, dance, and opera on four major continents. He has designed for Academy Award winners Olympia Dukakis, Karen Allen, John Douglas Thompson, and Debra Jo Rupp; Tony Award winner Jerry Mitchell; Grammy winner James Taylor; two-time Tony nominee Alison Fraser; and many others. He has also designed for major companies, including the American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.), Shakespeare & Company, The New Victory Theatre, and more. Learn more about Oliver.
Matthew Brian Cost, lighting designer, has been designing lights for the last twenty years, from his alma mater Colby College to greater New England and beyond. Recent credits include “Side by Side” for BoSoma Dance Company and City Ballet of Boston, and “Jonathan” and “The Good Deli” for Moonbox Productions. Matt lives in East Weymouth, MA with his wife Abby, son Simon and pitbull Roadie. Learn more about Cost.
James Cannon, sound designer, is a composer and sound designer from Chicago, Illinois who recent credits include The Old Man & The Old Moon, Head Over Heels, The Colored Museum, RENT (Umbrella Stage Company); The Rocky Horror Show, Passing Strange, Late, Sister School (Moonbox Productions); NIGHTTOWN: An Operatic Reimagining of James Joyce's Ulysses (Lowell House Opera); Spring Awakening (Wellesley Theater Project); and The Waverly Gallery (Hovey Players).
Bethany Rachel, stage manager, brings more than a decade of stage management experience to her work. Having first started with Boston Conservatory at Berklee’s production of Hydrogen Jukebox in 2019, Rachel has committed extensive time and dedication towards Boston Conservatory’s Dance, Music, and Theater divisions.
Director and Choreographer – Michelle Chassé
Associate Choreographer – Tommy Coye
Music Director – Ned Rosenblatt
Dramaturg – Alyssa Schmidt
Scenic Designer – Jenna McFarland Lord
Costumes Designer – Arthur Oliver
Lighting Designer – Matthew Brian Cost
Sound Designer – James Cannon
Production Stage Manager – Bethany Rachel
Producer – Hanna Oravec
Production Stage Manager – Bethany Rachel
Technical Director – Andrew Makepeace
Props Manager – Hannah Ashe
Costume Technician – Lee Viliesis
Wardrobe Manager – Ie Fuchs
House Electrician/Light Board Operator – Roshane Brown
Sound Engineer – Jesse McKenzie
Staff Assistant Stage Manager – Zachary Sayre
STUDENT PRODUCTION STAFF:
Assistant Director – Lauren Barkman
Assistant Stage Manager – Lexie Brown, Bridget Bullard
Rehearsal Accompanist – Nathanael Wilkerson
A2 – Evelyn Dumeer
Follow Spot Operator – Audrey Curdo, Brenna Sincaglia
Wardrobe Crew – Annie McCarthy, Becky Gray, Addyson Mackay, Grace Wilkerson
Audio Crew – Karina Tejera, Alyssa VanLandingham
Run Crew – Zoey Deel, Nina-Simone Diaz, Payton Hines, Connor Zeidman
CONCERT SERVICES STAFF:
Senior Manager of Concert Services – Luis Herrera
Concert Production Coordinator – Matthew Carey
Concert Production Manager – Kendall Floyd
Senior Manager of Performance Technology – Wes Fowler
Performance Technology Technicians – Sara Pagiaro, Goran Daskalov
- Jermaine Hill
- Emilio Gonzalez
- Katie Piselli
- The team at the Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Conservatory thanks audience members for viewing this program information online. This paperless program saved 9,450 sheets of paper, 1,005 gallons of water, and 804 pounds of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.