Music? In a show about the Andrews Sisters, absolutely.
That said, the latest production at the Amish Acres Round Barn Theatre isn’t just about tunes.
“It’s not a jukebox musical,” Amber Burgess, director/choreographer said of “Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters.” “It’s not just their music put to a story that doesn’t have any meaning. It’s actually the story of their lives, from childhood all the way through their careers and all the way through the war. Everything, top to bottom.”
In part, the musical chronicles the sisters’ career ascent as recording artists to their tours cheering America soldiers during World War II. The war is the centerpiece of the musical’s second act, according to Burgess.
“(The sisters) were so involved in the USO and they often couldn’t even tell their family or their friends where they were,” she said. “They could call people but they couldn’t tell them where on the globe they were, because it was confidential. They were so involved in the USO and doing those tours, they often had more security clearance than other people in the military.”
On several occasions, the military honored the Andrews Sisters for their efforts.
“Because they didn’t just do those USO shows,” Burgess said. “They never stopped singing. They would sing in hospitals. They would sing in mess halls. Anytime someone wanted them to sing a song, they would. Even just out on the street — if a soldier asked for a song, they would sing.”
“Sisters of Swing” is an engaging story, in Burgess’ view, and through it audiences can learn more about the lives of three famous siblings.
“I think people expect to go in there and hear some Andrews Sisters songs,” she said. “But then what they’re learning — and the things that are happening, the stories they’re walking away with — is exceeding their expectations. In my humble opinion.”
Audiences do, in fact, hear some Andrews Sisters songs in “Sisters of Swing.” Burgess said attendees can expect to hear tunes they know, some they don’t and every Andrews Sisters song they love.
“The heart of the story is the music,” she said. “It’s very central.”
And audiences like what they’ve been hearing.
“We’ve had standing ovations I think (at) almost every performance so far,” Burgess said this week. “People have really enjoyed it. And you can just tell when people are hearing a song they love, or something they went there to hear.
“On opening night, the first bars of ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’ came up (and) the audience applauded. They were so excited to hear it that they clapped before the song started.”
“Sisters of Swing” stars returning Round Barn Theatre performers Emily Baer as LaVerne Andrews, Em Laudeman as Maxene Andrews and Olivia Corbello as Patty Andrews. Travis Smith is the musical director.
If you want to go
Performances of “Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters” run through Oct. 14 at the Amish Acres Round Barn Theatre in Nappanee. Showtimes are at 2 and 8 p.m. A show schedule and ticket information is available by calling the box office at 800-800-4942 ext. 2 or online at www.amishacres.com.