Arts & Entertainment Editor
Five By Design, a group of five singers, performed “Club Swing,” a variety show with various selections of music from the big band era accompanied by the Robert Baca Jazz Orchestra Oct. 24.
The singers for Five By Design included Kurt Niska,
tenor; Terrence Niska, bass; Lorie Carpenter-Niska, soprano; Michael
Swedburg, baritone; and Sheridan Zuther, alto.
The performance of “Club Swing” included songs from the 1930s to the 1950s and the decline of swing music. The fictional club brings the audiences to a night club on the verge of demolition - drops cloths cover the tables and bar and five radio-style microphones from the 1940s stand center stage. But before the wrecking ball falls, Joe Sullivan, played by Accola, worked for the club as a mixologist, a bartender, at the club during the heyday of swing.
Sullivan visits the establishment one last time and as the drop clothes are removed, the club springs to life. The audience sees the club when it first opened and entertained customers with the who's who of singers and bands in the Big Band Era. The band opened with the frenetic pace of Benny Goodman’s “Bugle Call Rag” and closed with Lois Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing.”
Swedburg said the group didn't struggle to keep up the pace of the show with help from the audience.
“I felt the audience gave us a lot of energy,” Swedburg said.
Five By Design celebrates the swing movement from 1937-1955. The stage design evokes the ambiance of a night club from an old movie. Each decade highlights the songs, events and personalities that defined the era.
The singers wore clothing from 1937 to 1955, including vintage clothing and clever reproductions. The group created an outfit worn by Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones also known as Spike Jones from yellow material and painted red lines on the materials. They took the material and a picture of Jones and created the suit for the “Cocktail for Two” performance. Kurt Niska played the part of Jones.
Jones played satirical arrangements of popular songs
with his band “Spike Jones and his City Slickers” through the 1940s
and 1950s. Jones changed ballads and classical works by adding sounds to the songs, including gunshots, whistles, cowbells and ridiculous vocals.
“(The music) means so much to people who lived in the era,” Carpenter-Niska said.
Many of the songs and themes performed included:
Back Stage at Club Swing:
The 1940s Canteen Broadcast:
Spike Jones and His City Slickers:
Your Hit Parade:
The 1950s Live at the Club:
Closing the Club:
Senior John Gladden, a student worker in the FAC, has seen several shows and said this one topped the charts.
“I’ve worked here for six years, and this is one of the best performances we’ve had here, bar none,” Gladden said.
The group began when brothers Kurt and Terrence Niska, childhood friend Michael Swedburg and Lorie Carper-Nika, Kurt’s wife, joined forces while at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as member of the vocal ensemble Hot Jazz. After completing their studies, the friends and Accola started Five By Design.
“We loved being here and we hope we can come again,” Carpenter-Niska said.
Five By Design performs on the road about 200 days a year. Other member of the group include Phil Henrickson, sound engineer since 1987; Daniel Ellis, technical director; and Catherine Scott, artist representative.
Sue Martin, president of the SEARK Concert Associations and professor in the School of Education, said she enjoyed the show.
“It’s been fantastic," Martin said. "People have even said they want to go and dance up front even."
For more information about Five By Design please visit its Web site.
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ŠThe Voice 2007
Revised 09/17/2007 08:12:03 PM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/5_8/five.htm