If you want to hear the great music of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, you’ll get a wonderful earful at , at 59E59 Theaters. These expert jazz musicians, surrounded by four other excellent players, create a swinging, big band sound that will surely please a great many people who are starved for the popular swing music of the 1930s and 1940s.
However, if, you are in search of a well-written, well-acted musical theater experience, you will need to go elsewhere, as this particular piece might have benefitted by simply being a concert. Indeed, its attempt at providing a theatrical framework is simply embarrassing, as the only attempt at actual live theater is some extremely lame bickering exchanges between the Anderson Twins, which are meant to mirror the clashes between the Dorsey Brothers that resulted in the end of their collaboration and the formation of two competing bands.
The vast majority of the information we receive about the Dorsey Brothers comes from a series of film clips snipped from a 1947 movie called The Fabulous Dorseys, which actually starred the real-life brothers. (The movie, itself, was also more fiction than fact.)
From a musical point of view, it’s worth noting that Tommy Dorsey played the trombone, while Jimmy Dorsey played the saxophone and clarinet. Neither of the Anderson Twins play the trombone, nor does anyone else in their six-piece band. So, while they play the music of the Dorsey Brothers, it isn’t always entirely authentic.
Also missing from the show (although acknowledged in the program notes) are any vocals – as well as any mention of the fact that, whether together or apart, the Dorsey Brothers were fronted by some important singers, among them Frank Sinatra and Helen O’Connell.
The show may be intended, in part, to raise the Anderson Twins’ profile to the point where they may be poised to follow in the big band footsteps of Vince Giordano and The Nighthawks. But before that happens, the Twins will need to project a warmer, more natural personal style. They need not be actors – clearly, they are not – but they must become genuine personalities.