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Swingin' At the Center

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e plaza uniting the Music Center's three splendid theatres wears a festive air at any time of year-all the trees festooned with myriad little gleams of light, fountains splashing froth and feel-good negative ions, world-class architecture gladdening the eye and inspiring the soul, throngs of theatre patrons elegantly arrayed (or not, as the case may be.) And don't forget the eager street musicians making the welkin ring. It's spirit lifting and life affirming; it makes you proud to be an Angeleno.The plaza wore an air more festive than usual, simultaneously celebrating opening night of Swing! and heralding the holidays with a gorgeous giant Christmas tree. Inside the Ahmanson, however, a celebration of swing cut loose without mistletoe, holly, or Christmas carols. The curtain went up-and this time there was a curtain-on a whole lotta swingin', singin', jitterbuggin', and jivin'. A lotta Duke Ellington, Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Benny Goodman, even Hammerstein and Kern.Comparing favorites on the way home, we arrived at a consensus of four. We liked the dueling dancers: "West Coast Swing Couple" Dana Solimando and Bruce Lineberry, and their hotly competitive Latin swingsters Warren Adams and Marielys Molina. The haunting "Harlem Nocturne," with Greg Fiellin on bass and slithery Kim Craven as the instrument's seductive siren spirit, was a favorite, as was "Cry Me a River" with Jonathan Arons' trombone expertise and singer Sarah Jane Nelson's skilled and playful echoing of its mellow tones. The USO interlude "I'll Be Seeing You" was a dreamy and romantic change of pace and sentiment, its Scott Fowler the epitome of balletic masculine grace, and Carrie Helms his perfect dream-girl partner with bouncy blonde bob and piquant charm. Fowler, Swing!'s associate choreographer, exhibited zest and terpsichorean versatility; he's a dancer for all reasons. Boko Suzuki, besides being conductor and pianist/keyboardist, registered as an engaging performing personalit

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