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'Swing' set

Broadway at The Maryland shuffles through time to revive dance from the 1930s and '40s

Broadway at The Maryland shuffles through time to revive dance from the 1930s and '40s

December 02, 2002|by MEG H. PARTINGTON

megp@herald-mail.com

The Maryland Theatre will swing the clock back seven decades during the third show of its 2002-03 Broadway at The Maryland series.

"Swing!," which was nominated for six Tony Awards, will be presented Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. The musical celebrates the music and dance phenomenon that swept the 1930s and '40s and is now one of the fastest growing trends.

Singer Clarolyn Maier described "Swing!" as an "industrial, retro, swing show." She said the hairdos and dresses are not necessarily from the era but the music definitely is.

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"Swing!" features music by a neo-swing band performing a mix of jive, and swing of the Latin, West Coast, hip-hop and country/western varieties. Audience members will hear some classics, including "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "Harlem Nocturne," "It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got that Swing)," and "Sing, Sing Sing!" during the show's more than 30 dance numbers.

Its first national tour opened Nov. 20, 2000, at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

Maier portrays a singer of the era who has no name, though she would like to call her Ella in honor of jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. Her character, like many of that time, leans on music to get through tough times.

And Maier certainly can relate.

In a telephone interview from Phillipsburg, N.J., Maier said that her mother succumbed to ovarian cancer just days before.

Maier traveled in late August from Biloxi, Miss., to Portland, Ore., to be with her mother for three weeks. Then she returned to the stage for a month before her mother's death.

Performing "really was my saving grace," Maier said.

"Our mothers are angels," said Maier, adding that she dedicates "I'll Be Seeing You," one of the songs her character sings, to her mother.

The experience of dealing with her mother's failing health helped Maier set personal boundaries.

Artists tend to be obsessed with their work, said Maier, who is in her mid-30s.

"You have to know when to say 'You know what? I need a little time to regroup,'" she said.

Making time to rest is tough, considering that Maier has performed in "Swing!" more than 360 times in 15 months. She has traveled with the performing ensemble all over the United States, as well as to Japan.

"It's still a different show every day," Maier said.

She has produced two jazz CDs featuring herself on vocals: "Sessions," which came out two years ago, and "Standard Departures," which came out last year.

While singing has been her focus of late, Maier continues to hone musical skills that require her hands. She earned her degree in harp performance but also studied songwriting and voice during her college years at University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles.

She brings her harp on tour and practices when she can, currently preparing for some concerts during the holidays in Los Angeles.

Maier will be on the road with "Swing!" until June 22. After that, she's not sure what her future holds.

Maybe she'll land in New York, since she always "kind of had that Broadway sort of dream."




"Swing!"

8 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 3

The Maryland Theatre

21 S. Potomac St.

Hagerstown

Tickets cost $40 to $50 and are available at the theater box office or by calling 301-790-2000.

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