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updated: 11/8/2011 8:31 AM

HOTT Productions' 'Swing!' on stage in Schaumburg

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  • The ensemble rehearses a jazzy number for the next production of "Swing!"

      The ensemble rehearses a jazzy number for the next production of "Swing!"
    Courtesy Lisa Grover

  • Vocal director David Luzwick, of Hanover Park, and Michelle Pilafas of Hoffman Estates rehearse Duke Ellington's "Bli Blip."

      Vocal director David Luzwick, of Hanover Park, and Michelle Pilafas of Hoffman Estates rehearse Duke Ellington's "Bli Blip."
    Courtesy Lisa Grover

  • The HOTT Productions ensemble rehearses.

      The HOTT Productions ensemble rehearses.
    Courtesy Lisa Grover


With all of the worries and uncertainty in the world, members of a Schaumburg-based theater company know this much: "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing!"

The famous jazz standard, composed in 1931 by Duke Ellington, drives the latest musical, "Swing!" mounted by HOTT Productions, or Helping Others Through Theater.

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Their musical revue opened last weekend at Schaumburg's Prairie Center for the Arts. It gave audiences a welcome respite, allowing them to sit back and enjoy the throwback musical filled with songs and dances from the swing era of jazz.

Shows continue at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call (847) 650-HOTT for details.

"It's tons of fun, and so energizing," said Jack Keehan, a Hoffman Estates dentist appearing in the ensemble. "We go from one song to the next, with a full band right on stage with us."

Producer Chris Seminaro, a special-education teacher in Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54, formed the company 16 years ago with her sister, Donica Luzwick of Hanover Park.

Bringing their combined stage experience and love of musical theater to the company, they pledged right from the start to earmark their proceeds for charity, and bring others along with them in the process.

Over the years, they have donated more than $115,000 to local and national causes, says Seminaro.

"Our board of directors chooses the charity," she says. "We have donated to literacy efforts and autism research, as well as more immediate needs, such as providing coats last winter, sponsoring families during the holiday season, and purchasing provisions for a homeless family to set up their first apartment."

With their latest show closing over Veterans Day weekend, the company has decided to promote Joining Forces, the White House program that aims to empower military families.

Company members have pledged to donate the proceeds from "Swing!" to Edward Hines Jr. Hospital, but they also plan to write letters of support to service members and their families and invite veterans from Edward Hines Jr. Veterans Hospital to attend the shows.

Some of the older veterans probably will recognize music from show, from "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," and "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree," to "I'll Be Seeing You" and "In the Mood."

"'Swing!' celebrates the jazz era's remarkable diversity, to the beat of the most exhilarating songs of the period," Seminaro adds. "But as this enthralling show makes abundantly clear, swing was never a time or place -- it has always been a state of mind."

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