Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
It has already been a busy, catholic week at Wolf Trap. Monday night, weaged betweet "The Duchess of Malfi" and Pete Seeger, Tex Beneke and the umpteenth renewal of the Glenn Miller Orchestra delighted an enthusiastic sell-out crowd.
The concert, billed as "Big Band Sounds from the Summer of '42," featured Helen O'Connell and Bob Eberly, vocalists from the salad days of Miller and Jimmy Dorsey.
Beneke, who looks like Richard Nixon with a tenor saxophone, is a showman well aware of what his audience wants. There was no deviation from nostalgia Monday at Wolf Trap.
Beneke and his 14-man orchestic opened with "Moonlight Serenade," and followed with a series of Glenn Miller hits that included "Tuxedo Junction," "Pennsylvania 6-5000," "Ida," and the crowd's favorite, "Chattanooga Choo Choo."
The second half of the evening, the segment devoted to Jimmy Dorsey, seemed flatter and campier than the Miller set. The vocal attempts in particular were less than successful.
After 40 years on the big band scene, Eberly and O'Connell are perhaps entitled to sing only every other note, but their shortcomings fractured a pleasant evening's entertainment.
Eberly, whose name was bandied about with Sinatra and Como in the 1940s, is left now with a wavy, contrived voice that makes one think of cocktail napkins.
O'Connell looks younger than she did at the Roosevelt Hotel in 1939, but one must report that her voice has flown the coop. She and Eberly move the audience with their renditions of "Green Eyes," "Amapola," and "Tangerine," but it was the music of Glenn Miller than made the evening.
Monday's performance at Wolf Trap was telecast nationwide for Public Broadcasting by WETA, a program purportedly hosted by an unseen Joel Grey. Since Grey was not onstage or anywhere in sight, one hopes he enjoyed the show.
Finally, Tex Beneke must be thanked for bringing back not only the sounds of the '40s but the threads as well. Tex sported a dinner jacket the likes of which have not been seen since Bogart pined for Bergman in "Casablanca."