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Andrew Sisters swinging again

Boogie-woogie icons come alive at Fallon

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Andrew Sisters swinging again

A scene from "Sisters if Swing: The Story of the Andrew Sisters."

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POSTED June 4, 2009 1:01 a.m.
COLUMBIA — Bright, sassy and full of bounce – that’s the signature sound of the Andrews Sisters, America’s boogie-woogie trio that swept to worldwide fame in the ‘30s and ‘40s.

Now Sierra Repertory Theatre is pleased bring their era to the stage in a jazzy tribute called “Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters.”

Packed with more than 20 classic hits, and playing at the Fallon House Theatre  through June 28, the show captures the upbeat spirit that kept The Andrews Sisters at the top of the charts for decades.

Audiences will be tapping their toes and snapping their fingers to unforgettable hits like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and “Rum and Coca Cola.”

With tight harmonies, jazzy arrangements, synchronized moves and voices that blended beautifully, Laverne, Maxene and Patty created a distinctive look and sound, but their success also took tremendous devotion to their art and their career.  Sisters of Swing, written by Beth Gillenland and Bob Beverage, is mostly about the music, but also delves into the sisters’ personal side, leaving the audience with a touching portrait of their lives, their work and their legacy.

“The Andrews Sisters came on to the music scene just at the right time,” said SRT Artistic Director Scott Viets, who directs and choreographs the show. “And their fame has never gone away – every generation rediscovers it – these are feel-good songs that still connect. This show celebrates not only their music, but also appreciates their impact on our country and why their accomplishments have given them an honored place in history.”   
 
Through a series of vignettes, the show traces the Andrews Sisters’ travels from hopeful young girls in Minnesota honing a Vaudeville sister act to seasoned stars who devote themselves to raising the spirits of troops and the nation during the darkest days of World War II.

The girls hit the road in their early teens and spent nearly every minute together, working the Vaudeville circuit, touring with big bands and eventually hitting gold in 1938 with a smash hit called “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.” It was the first Gold Record by a female group, and was followed by hit after hit for more than a decade. Their show biz career included more than 600 recordings, many movies, radio, stage and television appearances and more Top 10 hits than either Elvis or the Beatles.

For SRT, the sisters will be played by three outstanding performers – Carrie Madsen (SRT’s White Christmas) returns to play the oldest sister Laverne, newcomer and recording artist Jill Anderson is Maxene and SRT all-star Julie Ludlum  is back after a three-year absence to play the youngest sister, Patty.

Pianist Nolan Bonvouloir, the show’s guest musical director, is on stage throughout as the sister’s long-time accompanist Vic Schoen, and a fourth player, Jonn Jorgensen, appears as the group’s manager, Lou Levy, and assorted other celebrities and characters who came into their lives.

Due to early audience demand, Sierra Rep has scheduled an additional week of performances with extra matinee showings at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday June 24-28, and 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 27.

This show is appropriate for all audiences.

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