The Glenn Miller Orchestra

Jun 21, 2015

Legendary band leader Glenn Miller went “missing in action” while flying to Paris during World War II, but his spirit and his distinctive sound marches on.

He was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943, was awarded the world’s first gold record by RCA Records, and in his short civilian career had more hit songs than either Elvis or the Beatles.

For two hours, the Festival Theatre swung its audience back to the 1940s as the Glenn Miller Orchestra performed a selection of hits in Miller’s unique style and sound.

This trademark sound relies on a high-pitched clarinet playing the melody, with the saxophone an octave below, and lots of vibrato.  It spawned iconic hits such as “In The Mood”, “Tuxedo Junction”,  “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “Little Brown Jug”, “American Patrol”, “Pennsylvania 6-5000”, “Perfidia”, A String of Pearls”, “Stardust”, and even a cover of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. In this production, all these tunes and more were sandwiched between an intro and a finale of Miller’s self-penned “Moonlight Serenade”.

Musical director Rick Gerber paid homage to the original Miller sound, allowing the music to speak for itself. There was no flash or dramatics; the iconic music was simply played by a thoroughly impressive and musically adept ensemble.

However, there was some nice choreography delivered by the Broadway Swing Dancers and excellent vocals from both Wendy Smith-Brune and Mark Kopitzke.  Kopitzke’s rendition of “The White Cliffs of Dover” was superb, as was his duet with Smith-Brune of “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree”.

The performances were all admirable, but the nostalgic night belonged to Glenn Miller’s music, which still captivates people after 75 years and will probably continue to do so for the next 75 years if orchestras such as this are led by dedicated people such as Rick Gerber.

The Glenn Miller Orchestra played at the Festival Theatre two shows as part of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, which has now finished.

More Adelaide Cabaret Festival stories and reviews here.


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