A capacity audience applauded Rhapsody in Swing with standing ovations on Saturday, December 22 at the Memorial Opera House. It was just what this collaborative community theater group needed to give them the energy, enthusiasm and confidence to take this unique musical on the road halfway around the world....to China!
The one night only preview of this original American musical was offered to share this event with their local communities, colleagues, family and friends the show that would debut in China. It was also considered as a final dress rehearsal. Tickets were free but reservations were required. A free will donation conducted that evening raised almost $3000. towards the expenses of the musical production like props, costumes, and music. A chance to talk with the actors and musicians afterwards revealed that this tightly orchestrated rehearsal schedule between Thanksgiving and Christmas was an accomplishment in itself! Participants came from Chicagoland, Northwest Indiana, Michigan and even two travelled from Canada to embark on the musical adventure.
The original musical was created by local collaborators South Shore Orchestra, Carnegie Arts Center and the South Shore Dance Alliance. They responded to the invitation made by the Confucius Institutes of Beijing and Valparaiso University. South Shore Orchestra has travelled twice before with a group or 90 orchestral musicians, but this time were asked to do something a bit different after Jinyuan Meng of CI at VU saw The Unity Event production of Evita in November 2011. The creative collaborators did another one more recently of Miss Saigon in November 2012.
This group, which includes 10 actors/dancers, 17 musicians of the South Shore Orchestra Jazz Ensemble, and the 7 Design/Production Crew personnel, left for Beijing and the southeast region of China on December 26 to perform seven times in six cities. Reports are being made while there on the South Shore Orchestra Facebook page and their website southshoreorchestra.org as received by members of the traveling group.
This original musical review of the American Swing era was cleverly threaded with the memorable music of George Gershwin and other notable composers and bands of the 40's. A little theatrical drama, humor and fabulous dancing and singing make it truly an American production. The Rhapsody in Swing group feels their calling as cultural ambassadors every evening--sharing a universal language through music, voice and dance! Everywhere they go they are applauded, sought for autographs, conversation and appreciated.