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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: August 7, 2017

‘The All Night Strut!’ is an explosive musical journey through the 1930s and ’40s

Written by: Bob Keyes
Bryant Martin, Esther Stilwell, Missy Douse and Curt Dale Clarke star in "The All Night Strut!" Photo by Aaron Flacke/Courtesy of Portland Stage Company

Bryant Martin, Esther Stilwell, Missy Douse and Curt Dale Clarke star in “The All Night Strut!”
Photo by Aaron Flacke/Courtesy of Portland Stage Company

For the second season in a row, Maine State Music Theatre and Portland Stage Company are working together on a show that will infuse the end of summer with a bolt of energy. The two theater companies present “The All Night Strut!” Tuesday through Sept. 10 at Portland Stage on Forest Avenue.

The show is a musical journey through the 1930s and ’40s with swing, jazz, blues, bebop and other lively musical expressions performed by a cast of four that includes Maine State artistic director Curt Dale Clark. “This show explodes off the stage by the sheer force of the music in it,” Clark said.

“The All Night Strut!” tells an American musical story, moving through the Depression, World War II and the post-war boom with music by Hoagy Carmichael, Frank Loesser, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Cab Calloway and the Gershwins.

In addition to Clark, the cast includes Missy Douse, Bryant Martin and Esther Stilwell, with musical direction by Eddie Reichert. They sing and dance as a foursome and as couples, spicing up the show with the romance of innocent times, the emotions of the war and the hope for a better future. Songs include “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Minnie The Moocher,” and “White Cliffs of Dover.”

Among Clark’s favorite moments in the show are “Tuxedo Junction” and “Java Jive.”

“They are just fantastic, amazing songs, and this show is a reminder of just how amazing they are,” he said. “They remind us why we fell in love with music in the first place.”

Clark has performed this show many times and wanted to bring it to Maine to rekindle the memories of older theatergoers. “For a lot of our audience, this is right in their wheelhouse,” he said. “They know they love this music and want more of it. We’re giving it to them.”

Last year, the theaters collaborated to present “The Irish … and How They Got that Way.” The show was successful, and the theaters extended the run. Anticipating a similar response, they scheduled four weeks of performances this summer.

“The All Night Strut”

WHEN: Opens for previews Tuesday, runs through Sept. 10
WHERE: Portland Stage Company, 25A Forest Ave., Portland
TICKET & INFO: $46 to $58; portlandstage.org, 774-0465

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