We traveled north of Boston to the charming town of Stoneham, arriving at the Stoneham Theatre as busloads of seniors were entering the renovated movie palace to see “Sisters of Swing,” the best-selling musical in the theatre’s history.
It was easy to see why. The story of the Andrews sisters (Laverne, Maxene and Patty) is lovingly told in a musical that is filled with some of their greatest hits.
The good news is that you don’t have to fight Boston traffic to see this terrific show. “Sisters of Swing” is now playing at the Park Theatre (aka RI Center for the Performing Arts) in Cranston through Sunday, July 30. Laura Degiacomo, Kerri Jill Garbis and Kimberly Robertson, three seasoned professionals, play the sisters, bringing the particular sound of the group alive in perfect harmony.
We follow the sisters through their pre-teen years, the difficult time on the road, their first record on Decca, their ups and downs, marriages and divorces, relationship with their parents and each other, inevitable break-up and the most meaningful part of their career: entertaining soldiers.
In addition to a good back-up band and terrific pianist, the show gets its zip thanks to Steve Gagliastro, a marvelous character actor who plays over a dozen roles, male and female, with an equal number of quick costume changes.
As the lights dim, Gagliastro comes on stage and opens a large backdrop, revealing photos of the Andrews Sisters and a huge screen where slides and videos of them are shown as the action takes place on stage. The sets should work perfectly on the large Park Theatre stage, where they will have even more room to move around. The song choices are endless, saving two of the best (“Apple Blossom Time” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”) for the end. Their rendition of “Rum and Coca-Cola,” with a little help from Gagliastro in drag, brought down the house. They even threw in some audience participation.
Those of us who remember the great songs of the ’40s will love this show. Bring along some younger folks and give them a taste of what real music was.
The Andrews Sisters sold over 90 million records. Nine of their albums went gold. They had more top ten hits than the Beatles or Elvis. And the three actresses have captured their sound.
The original Stoneham cast of 2008 will be together again at the Park. Don’t miss them.
Shows are Thursday at 7:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; and Sunday at 4 p.m. Call 467-7275 for reservations or Google Park Theatre-Cranston, or stop at the box office for tickets, priced at $34 and $39. You may also sign up for a special dinner before the show.
As of this writing, good seats were still available. Actually, there aren’t any bad seats in this beautiful theatre.