As one of the biggest names in 1950s rock’n’roll, headliner Tommy Steele was bound to bring in the crowds at Bill Kenwright’s ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ at The Winter Gardens’ Opera House.
But while the 78-year-old star captures perfectly the all-important musical performances, his portrayal of the world famous swing musician left something to be desired.
The show follows the life of Glenn Miller, from his early days as a struggling newcomer to his later success as a bandleader, musician and composer.
After some initial cringing brought on by a rocky start and Steele’s American accent wears off, the audience is drawn in to a explosive night of big band and swing music that practically begs them to get up and dance.
Steele’s star quality shines through as he takes centre stage while saxophones blare in the background. Even the staunchest of doubters will find themselves thinking – “He’s still got it!”
But it is Sarah Seoteart – a feisty Helen Burger – who is the real star of the show.
She belts show-stopping tunes (Zing!Went the Strings of My Heart, Moonlight Serenade) in traditional Miller fashion, and even boasts a convincing American accent – a rare gift in this conspicuously British production.
Her romance with Miller isn’t quite so convincing.
The supporting cast deserves a special mention, as they twirl, tapdance and lindyhop their way through exhausting routines with the sort of sunny-faced enthusiasm you’d expect.
This boundless energy contributes to the highlight of the show, as they play young soldiers boldly swinging to Miller’s most famous wartime tune, In The Mood, while bombers shriek overhead.
It’s the ultimate tribute to Glenn Miller: a glorious, wordless portrayal of how one man’s music brought hope to a hopeless generation.
For the first time, I believed I was watching Glenn Miller and not simply Tommy Steele.
For swing lovers, ‘The Glenn Miller Story’ is a musical treat - one that no die-hard Tommy Steele fan is likely to miss.