Play hits all the right notes

Propaganda Swing''Photo by Robert Day
Propaganda Swing''Photo by Robert Day

Propaganda Swing is a thought-provoking, entertaining and powerful tale of life for a group of jazz musicians under the Nazis.

The UK premiere of Peter Arnott’s play was at The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry last month and it can now be seen at Nottingham Playhouse until October 18.

Propaganda Swing throws the spotlight on the true story of Charly and his Orchestra, and reveals the characters behind the story of how some of the greatest German jazz musicians of the day entered into a pact with the Fascists in order to continue playing their beloved music - at the price of seeing it corrupted for evil.

The Nazis hated jazz but Propaganda Ministry official, Karl “Charly” Schwedler, understood its true power. And he made it his mission to harness that power.

The play features a multi-talented cast who combine their acting duties with playing the various instruments in Charly’s band, to impressive effect.

There are superb displays from Chris Andrew Mellon as nightclub owner Otto Stenzl, Callum Coates as William Joyce aka Lord Haw Haw, and Tomm Coles as conflicted bandleader Lutz Templin, who is prepared to keep playing the music he loves, but at a high price.

Holding it all together is Richard Conlon as American journalist Bill Constant.

Directed by Hamish Glen, this is a multi-faceted, highly recommended play, of particular interest to lovers of history and jazz music.

Check it out while you can.