From performing for GIs to dealing with sister rivalry, Sisters of Swing!, now playing at the Retro Dome, takes audiences on a trip way down memory lane with well-sung hit songs blended with a tell-all plot line. Selling more than 90 million records, the Andrews Sisters were on top of their game in the late ’30s and during World War II.
Sisters of Swing! begins with the youngest sister, Patty (Shannon Guggenheim), recalling her time spent with her sisters, Laverne (Hilary Little) and Maxene (Colette Phelps). Patty reminisces about singing with her older sisters around the piano at the age of 7, with Laverne, the oldest and 14 at the time, always telling them to sing louder or softer or in tune. They fought like all sisters do, but music kept their bond strong.
Throughout World War II, they spent their time overseas proudly singing to the troops, anything to keep the morale up and the men safe. In this time, the sisters faced their own struggles with their overprotective father, the death of their mother and Maxene secretly wedding the group’s manager.
Sisters of Swing! is the first of four productions in this year’s Off-Broadway San Jose Series and makes a great starter. This portrait of the girls’ lives is both fun and infectious. The cast pulls off such famous numbers as “Bei Mir Bist du Schön,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” with ease.
Audience participation is encouraged. Their rendition of “Six Jerks in a Jeep” sold the show for me. From the lyrics to the choreography, everything was on cue. Even the gentlemen from the audience played along perfectly and couldn’t have been any better or exciting to watch. Mark Martinez steals the show in multiple parts: as the sisters’ manager, as the boy looking for his two front teeth in “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” and as Carmen Miranda. From his bright-yellow, low-cut dress and wig to boyish suspenders and a lisp, he kept everyone entertained from beginning to end.