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‘Swing!’ review: High energy (and heels) at Gateway Playhouse

Ekaterina Fedosova and Damian Whitewood kick up their

Ekaterina Fedosova and Damian Whitewood kick up their heels in "Swing!" at Gateway Playhouse in Bellport. Credit: Jeff Bellante

WHAT “Swing!”

WHEN | WHERE Through June 24. Upcoming: 2 and 8 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday and Tuesday; 3 and 8:30 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday; 215 South Country Rd., Bellport

TICKETS $59-$89; 631-286-1133,

Swing in American jazz is remembered fondly, although not the times in which it flourished. Swing was king during the Great Depression and World War II. By the start of the Baby Boom generation in 1946, it was supplanted by solo crooners, such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, and later by rock and roll.

The explosively energetic revue “Swing!,” now kicking up heels way over heads at Gateway Playhouse, may leave you breathless in your seat. Yes, they danced the night away in the Big Band Era. But health insurance should be mandated for some steps in this show.

Fans of “Dancing With the Stars” may recognize two of the dance pros from the hit TV competition. Ekaterina Fedosova and Damian Whitewood bring a “DWTS” vibe to “Show Me What You Got,” challenged by Akina Kitazawa and Jesse Jones. It’s Latin vs. West Coast swing in a dazzling display of footwork and daring tosses of spinning female partners and catches by sure-handed males. Singer Maceo Oliver supplies lyrical commentary.

In two late-for-his-date numbers, Oliver shares vocals with Kate McCann, first on the scat classic “Bli-Blip,” in which one decipherable word, “dance,” is mistaken for “pants.” Their Act II duet, “All of Me”/“I Won’t Dance,” ends in a romantic twirl. Stephanie Gandolfo’s “Cry Me a River” supplies the water works.

The married pairing of Samantha and Brian Lawton delivers dance variety with the Lindy Hop to Count Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” and the “Boogie Woogie Country” hoedown.

Although there’s no plot to “Swing!” — JP Qualters opens appropriately with a rousing “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing)” — the song-and-dance Act I closer enacts a girl-meets-boy-off-to-war medley, from “Bugle Boy (of Company B)” to the wistful “I’ll Be Seeing You,” with McCann serenading Stephanie Brooks and Thomas Sutter’s pas de deux.

Robert Felstein’s eight-piece orchestra is exquisitely front and center on Duke Ellington’s “Caravan.” Ingenious trombone and trumpet solos by Will Marrin and John Brierly, and bassist Ross Kratter, assisted by dancer Shanna Heverly, remind us that without a band the dancers may as well tie their shoes together.

Direction and choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, restaged for Gateway by Desiree Duarte and Charlie Marcus, brings this 1999-2001 Broadway winner back to vibrant life. But don’t try these dance steps without a medic on hand.


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