Milwaukee Rep’s High Spirited “The All Night Strut” Leaves Audiences Spellbound

Reviewed by: Matthew Perta

Highly Recommended

With a world growing more insane by the minute, wouldn’t it be nice to get on board some train at any city in the country and be swept away from cable television and social media for a couple of hours by those glorious, everlasting tunes of the 1930s and 1940s from such iconic composers such as Duke Ellington and the Gershwins, performed to perfection by a knockout cast?

Too good to be true?  Not so, thanks to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s rollicking production of the high-spirited musical revue, The All Night Strut!  After what I witnessed on opening night in mid-November, The All Night Strut! is the perfect way to end an old year or start a new one – this electrifying show roars on through Jan. 13 in The Rep’s Stackner Cabaret, located at 108 E. Wells in the heart of downtown Milwaukee.

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The All Night Strut! starts off with four nameless individuals – two men and two women, being welcomed aboard a train by a conductor, all of whom are ready to sing, dance and play musical instruments.  That’s it, no plot, but none is needed because this trip – starting at Chattanooga and winding its way through Milwaukee, Berkeley, Camp Pendleton, Austin and Birmingham and ending in New York City (sorry, Chicago) – loses no time in sweeping us up by springing open the American songbook overflowing with memorable standards including “Minnie the Moocher,” “In the Mood,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “A Fine Romance” and “It Doesn’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing).”

Powerful voices combined with dazzling instrumental performances are at the heart of The All Night Strut!  The impressive cast of Brian Russell Carey, Kelley Faulkner, Nygel D. Robinson, Jonathan Spivey and Katherine Thomas prove their amazing versatility as performers who can truly do it all.  This multi-talented cast sparkles like champagne flowing into a stunning crystal flute.

Robinson held the audience spellbound with his rendition of “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and Faulkner’s heartfelt interpretation of the World War II classic “I’ll Be Seeing You” lingers in the heart and mind long after the last chord is struck.  And the cast wowed the crowd with a lively “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” a fun-filled “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and a fantastically-executed “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar.”

The All Night Strut! is the brainchild of Fran Charnas, a professor at the Boston Conservatory.  Strut!, her award-winning baby, has made stops across the country, has been performed by the Boston Pops and Glenn Miller Orchestra, and was broadcast on TV screens nationally by PBS.

For tickets to a roaring good time, visit www.MilwaukeeRep.com or call (414) 224-9490.