Following an 11-week tour which opened in August 2015, The Glenn Miller Story will extend into 2016, opening in Peterborough on Tuesday 29 December. This tale of America’s most famous Big Band leader stars Tommy Steele.
It’s been 70 years since Glenn Miller vanished over the English Channel as he flew to Paris to entertain the troops during the Second World War. Did he crash? Was he shot down? Will the mystery ever be solved? The show features a 16-piece orchestra and a full supporting company of performers.
For the past 15 or so years Bill Kenwright and his idol Tommy Steele have had supper two or three times every year and their “let’s find another show” conversations have possibly included adaptations of every screen musical ever written.
It was when discussing a particular favourite of theirs; the James Stewart box office smash The Glenn Miller Story, that Kenwright discovered that his all-encompassing love for Elvis was equal only to Steele’s adoration for Glenn Miller and his Orchestra. Kenwright learned that Steele is a true devotee; travelling all over the world to hear what remains of the original Orchestral Sounds, and is steeped in the knowledge and the glory of what Miller did for popular music. Steele enthused that Miller changed the face of this style of music from 1939 to 1943 when he was the most popular recording artist in the world. Some might say similar to what Presley did from the mid-1950s when he too was the most popular recording artist in the world.
The thought of Tommy Steele and The Glenn Miller Story was a wonderful opportunity to create something special in the mind of a producer like Kenwright. However, as Steele told him, there was an obvious problem – he was too old to play Miller! It was three years later – at a dinner party celebrating Steele’s award as the Most Popular Entertainer of All Time at the London Palladium – that they came up with what they believed to be the answer. Their solution can be viewed via The Glenn Miller Story (by the way, Steele will not be the Narrator).
Tommy Steele’s career includes more than 20 hit singles, 12 hit movies and award-winning stage musicals such as Half a Sixpence, Hans Andersen and Singin’ in the Rain. In recent years, Steele has starred as Christmas miser Scrooge in Bill Kenwright’s production of the festive musical, which enjoyed two successful runs at the London Palladium. It was a role that also made Steele the theatre’s all-time record breaking performer, having headlined more performances than any other star in the history of the Palladium.
Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright team up again to direct the show, having been at the helm of several award-winning musicals including Blood Brothers, Evita, and this year’s new production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Choreography is by Olivier Award winner Bill Deamer (Top Hat, Evita, Save the Last Dance For Me).