PARIS – The Oxford Hills school-community Broadway show will put professional dancers and musicians performing all-time great music front and center in performances of “SWING!” later this month.

“SWING!” explores the evolution and exploration of jazz all the way from the streets of Harlem to USO shows and then to the Savoy Ballroom. Music ranges from hot jazz to melodic tunes to bluesy standards.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. March 27, 28, 29 and at 1:30 p.m. March 30.

While the show has little or no dialogue, the songs loosely tell the story of two established jazz singers, played by Kristen Searles and Rick Albert. They are being schmoozed by two younger singers, played by Kelsie Davidson and Owen Davis, who are trying to break into the business.

Songs include “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” “Blues in the Night,” “Skylark” and other memorable tunes from such classic bands as Glenn Miller and Count Basie. A hip-hop version of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” will also be performed.

Two new directors are taking the reins of the production. Jane Riseman, a popular local performer, is stage director. Sarah Johnson, high-school music teacher and soloist with the Choral Art Society, is vocal music director.

The show is being co-produced by Bob Tifft and Kyle Jordan, who is also band leader, with choreographer Debi Irons, costumer Susan Wallace, artistic director Nancy Marcotte, stage manager Alison Whitney and lighting designer Albert Wescott. Longtime music teacher Cynthia Wescott will assist the lighting crew. Faye Hill is rehearsal accompanist.

Albert is new to the Oxford Hills stage scene. As former owner of Rick’s Cafe and Sidney’s on the causeway in Naples and present owner of the Olde Mill Tavern in Harrison, he has performed in his own clubs, singing and playing guitar.

Davis has performed in many school-community Broadway musicals as well as in Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association shows. His last role was the lead in “Carnival,” the previous school-community Broadway show.

“I am having an amazing time, but I am completely out of my comfort zone,” said Davis. “Even the music from ‘1940’s Radio Hour’ with OHMPAA was not really jazz. I’m learning to scat and I am breaking out of my shell as a dancer. My character really, really wants to dance.”

Searles, a veteran performer, has appeared in many school-community Broadway musicals, often as the lead – starting at age 10. She, too, has starred in numerous OHMPAA shows.

Seventeen-year-old Kelsie Davidson is a home-schooled senior but no novice in the theater. Besides appearing in last summer’s “Cinderella,” an OHMPAA show, she has also appeared with the Poland Players and performs with a dance group. She is also a state champion in the drama section of the National Forensic League. She plans to major in musical theater next year in college.

“Working with the full band with the music behind me will be a blast. I’m so excited to work with everyone, Kyle and the band, Debi Irons and all the dancers,” said Davidson.

Dance couples include Debi Irons and Dawson Hill; Karianna Merrill and Karen Kumaki; Johannah Martin and Dawson Hill; Nan Brett and Scott Proctor; and three who are married in real life: Ola and Brenda Melhus; Merrill and Sheila Rollins; and Matt and Emily Delamater.

Other dancers are Brynn O’Connor, Nicci Berke, Liz Baumhoff, Lindsey Kriger, Nettie Gentempo and Hannah Gentempo.

Backup singers are Ashley Dickinson, Jane Morse, Lisa DesRochers, Tabatha Hawkins, Megan Osgood, Kelsey Gamble, Jennifer St. Pierre, Jancie Cazneau, Dianne Maddix, Jessica Church, Sarah Johnson, Andrew Fickett, Jon Potter, Chris Alberi, Colin Vail, Mike Davis, Nick Frank and Dennis Twitchell.

The driving rhythms of the band are provided by Jordan on saxophones and flute; Jason Ward on sax and clarinet; Tom Flynn on trumpet; and Randy Crockett on trombone. Backing the horns are James McLaughlin on piano, Jim Hamalainen on guitar, Bob Tifft on bass and Rick McAlister on drums.

Tickets are available at Books N Things, 430 Main Street, Norway, 739-6200. Mail-in ticket requests and a seating chart of the OHCHS auditorium are available at all Norway, South Paris, Oxford and Windham branches of Norway Savings Bank and online at www.sad17.k12.me.us/instruction/music/swing/]www.sad17.k12.me.us/instruction/music/swing/. Simply download and print the form, select preferred seating, fill out the form and send it to Books N Things with a self-addressed stamped envelope and payment. Remaining tickets will be available at the door prior to each performance.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.