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November 28, 2014   
Posted: March 13, 2001
WHEELWRIGHT GALA SALUTES BIG BAND ERA

Coastal Carolina University will present "When Swing Was King," a musical production acclaimed for its nostalgic evocation of the big band era, on Friday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Wheelwright Auditorium. Admission to the performance is $20; $10 for students under age 18.

The event is part of Coastal's Wheelwright Gala, an annual event which raises funds for an endowment to benefit the university's cultural programming mission. Tickets to the black-tie gala, including dinner prepared by award-winning area chefs at 6 p.m. and reserved seating for the performance, are $100 per person. The proceeds from this year's gala will be used to purchase Steinway pianos for Coastal's Department of Music.

The show features a 14-member swing ensemble led by Frankie Lester and Don Edwards, veteran performers who sang and played with the legendary big bands of the 1940s and 1950s. An extra dimension is provided by a large screen video presentation which flashes hundreds of photos from the heyday of swing music.

Lester, the creator, host, narrator and male vocalist of When Swing Was King, began his career with the Ted Lewis Orchestra in the 1940s and was chosen by Tommy Dorsey to replace Frank Sinatra as lead singer of Dorsey's famous band. During World War II, Lester toured the European Theater with Hal McIntyre and his Orchestra. He has also served as the leader of the Billy May and Eddie Howard orchestras.

Trumpeter Don Edwards, director of the When Swing Was King Orchestra, began his career in the military during World War II. Following the war, he traveled as lead trumpet with the bands of Hal McIntyre, Billy May, Stan Kenton, Les Elgart and Ray Anthony. During a 15-year stint in Las Vegas, Edwards performed with such artists as Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. He continues to appear occasionally with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra.

Starr Acheson, the show's lead female vocalist, has sung on Broadway and in many touring musical comedy shows throughout the United States. For 10 years she performed with her own jazz band in Hilton Head Island and Charleston. She is highly regarded as an interpreter of Big Band standards made famous by Helen O'Connell, Doris Day, Helen Forest, Peggy Lee and others.

For more information, contact the Wheelwright Box Office at 349- 2502.

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