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Swinging on a Star: The Johnny Burke Musical

A solid ensemble of singers puts over this mild revue of Johnny Burke songs. Devised by Michael Leeds, "Swinging on a Star" is a compilation musical in the fashion of "Ain't Misbehavin'," and the current "Smokey Joe's Cafe." It's blander than all of those shows, but then, so are most of the songs represented here.

With:
Cast: Terry Burrell, Lewis Cleale, Denise Faye, Kathy Fitzgerald, Eugene Fleming, Alvaleta Guess, Michael McGrath.

A solid ensemble of singers puts over this mild revue of Johnny Burke songs, but it probably won’t make Burke any better known than the lyricist of “Misty” and “What’s New” already is now, which is primarily among the cabaret cognoscenti. Devised by Michael Leeds, “Swinging on a Star” is a compilation musical in the fashion of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,””Five Guys Named Moe” and the current “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.” It’s blander than all of those shows, but then, so are most of the songs represented here.

“Swinging” tries relentlessly to please — there’s lots of forced audience participation, particularly in the first act — but it’s notably short on emotional wallop. The singers and the arrangements are mostly tepid, the material devised to connect the songs very creaky indeed.

The only standout is the first-rate onstage band, led by Barry Levitt, with particularly strong contributions from Gary Guzio on trumpet and Bill Easley on sax.

Still, it’s a decent production, inoffensive at best, and it should have a fair to middling run. It looks great at the Music Box and will certainly draw the tourist crowd at the TKTS booth, at least through the holiday season.

Swinging on a Star: The Johnny Burke Musical

Music Box Theater, New York; 991 seats; $ 65 top

Production: A Richard Seader, Mary Burke Kramer, Paul B. Berkowsky and Angels of the Arts presentation, in association with Sally Sears, Corey Goldstein, Howard A. Tullman and Herbert Goldsmith Prods. Inc., of a musical revue in two acts written and directed by Michael Leeds, with lyrics by Johnny Burke and music by Burke, Joe Bushkin, Erroll Garner, Robert Haggart, Arthur Johnston, James Monaco, Harold Spina and Jimmy Van Heusen

Creative: Choreography, Kathleen Marshall; musical direction, orchestrations and vocal arrangements, Barry Levitt; dance music arrangements, Peter Howard; additional musical arrangements, Ron Drotos; sets, James Youmans; costumes, Judy Dearing; lighting, Richard Nelson; sound, T. Richard Fitzgerald; technical supervisor, Aurora Prods.; video, projections, Batwin+Robin Prods. Inc. Opened Oct. 22, 1995, reviewed Nov. 8. Running time: 2 hours, 30 min.

Cast: Cast: Terry Burrell, Lewis Cleale, Denise Faye, Kathy Fitzgerald, Eugene Fleming, Alvaleta Guess, Michael McGrath.

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