Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Bugle Boy (theatre)

The Bugle Boy is the hit West End musical that tells the story of the American jazz musician, trombonist and band leader, Alton Glenn Miller.
Written by the English playwright Den Stevenson, the musical traces the life of Miller from the end of his college days in the 1920s, through his time searching America for his definitive band sound, joining the US Army, touring the UK to lift the morale of the troops, and finally to his mysterious disappearance whilst travelling to France.

Bugle Boy blends history with entertainment and, judging from the website, I think the musical will have a similar feel to Buddy, which came to the Congress last year, in that the story is swept along by lots (and lots) of musical numbers. There are twenty-six familiar songs in all, including Pennsyvania 6-5000, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Little Brown Jug and, of course, In The Mood. Plus we have been promised a 16-piece band playing live on stage so it will be fun to see how they all fit on the Devonshire Park stage!

Devonshire Park Theatre, Tue 17th - Sat 28th Jul, 19:45.
Wed & Sat matinees, 14:30. No performances on Sun or Mon.
Various ticket prices. See Eastbourne Theatres website for details.

1 comment:

  1. The Bugle Boy is not so much a musical as a concert with acted narration. A few songs are sung as part of the story, while others are played in the context of a radio show and an AEF concert.

    I enjoyed seeing the excellent 16-piece band onstage throughout. They just about filled the little DP stage and were great to hear. There were a few technical problems meaning that some of the speech and singing was not audible over the band, but I saw the first DP performance so I guess this will be ironed out.

    Vintage images are projected onto a large screen at the back of the stage in place of scenery - an effective device to indicate the passing of years, particularly through the fast-moving first act which tells Miller's story up to just before the Second World War. I did like the humorous train journey sequences. ‘Larry Bronx’ was a fun portrayal and I particularly liked this characterisation.
    The second act concentrated on the war years and I thought it was 'padded out' and overly sentimental. I was probably in the minority here though as White Cliffs Of Dover got very appreciative applause from the predominantly older audience.

    ‘Glen Miller’ did a good job and had a nice voice. There were mutterings from purists in the row behind us complaining of a lack of 'authenticity' as Miller himself had never sung. However, it looked odd when he was silent especially during the radio broadcast when he was meant to be conducting but kept facing the audience with a weird, self-conscious smile. A bit creepy!

    All in all, this is a good show. Effectively a juke box of Miller hits, it doesn’t have anything new or deep to say about the man or his music, but as a piece of nostalgia and for an evening of light entertainment, I would recommend it.