Valley News -

By Jeff Pack
Writer 

The Harmony Dolls ready to 'Sing, Swing and Sizzle!'

 

Last updated 3/1/2019 at 1:46am

Courtesy photo

The Harmony Dolls will star in "Sing, Swing and Sizzle! A Salute to Swing" at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater Sunday afternoon.

Presented by West Coast Performing Arts and starring one of Southern California's USO-style entertainment acts, The Harmony Dolls, "Sing, Swing and Sizzle! A Salute to Swing" comes to the Old Town Temecula Community Theater Sunday, March 3.

The matinee program at 2 p.m. promises big band jazz and swing with smooth harmonies and endless charm. Organizers said audiences will be treated to the evolution of swing recalling the golden age of the Hollywood Canteen, Copacabana and Bob Hope's World War II USO tours with a modern twist.

The Harmony Dolls, based out of Los Angeles, has a rotating group of nine performers – many of whom have performed on Broadway – that rotate, sometimes on the same days in different locations. According to company owner, Megan Johnson Briones, she will perform with Christine Negherbon and Gail Bianchi.

Briones said she has always had an affection for the music she will perform Sunday.

"I have loved this music, all music from the 1940s, since I was a little girl," she said. "I learned it from my grandfather who was a beautiful Irish tenor, and was a soldier in World War II stationed in Germany.

"Ever since I was young my whole family would gather around the piano at my grandparents house during the holidays and sing in harmony. My mom is one of seven children, so that was a lot of voices. And of course voices from the same family sound amazing together. I still remember that sound, so many layers of harmony," Briones said.

She started the company when an acquaintance wanted an Andrews Sisters trio to sing a couple of songs at a birthday party.

"We threw something together and then decided this would be a fun thing to do, so we pursued it," Briones said. "It grew from there."

Briones said she continues to do it because she feels it's important to keep this music alive in a live theater show setting.

"For this music to be forgotten would be a crime," she said. "It really pains me when I mention the Andrews Sisters and people have no idea who I am talking about. If I mention 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy' they sometimes recognize that. It is really the lush harmonies that are very rare to hear in this day and age, and take a special kind of talent to perform as well. They are complex and pleasing to the ear, even if the layman doesn't know why he likes it, it is the combination of those sounds that gives it such interest."

She said The Harmony Dolls have a special component to help them make their performances as authentic as possible.

"What is cool is that our music has been transcribed directly from original recordings of the Andrews Sisters, exclusively for us," Briones said. "The harmonies are very complex as they often just came up with them on their own by ear, not writing them down on a page. Half the time they were probably sitting in the back of a tour bus. Also the lyrics of so many of these songs were so poetic, and the use of big bands was so prevalent. It was just a different time musically. I don't want to say better, just different."

Briones said the group will put a unique spin on this performance.

"In this show our first act explores the personalities of the girls and their relationships with each other while preparing for the USO show, then the second half is the actual USO show," she said. "I think what makes us unique and sets us apart from other groups of our type is our original choreography, our original transcriptions of harmonies, a traditional and authentic look – not a burlesque act – which many in the area are."

"Sing, Swing and Sizzle! A Salute to Swing" starring The Harmony Dolls will start at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2 at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, 42051 Main Street, in Temecula.

Tickets are $20-$40 and available at https://tickets.temeculatheater.org or by calling the box office at (866) 653-8696.

Jeff Pack can be reached at [email protected]

 

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