Glenn Miller led the most successful swing band of the 1930s and provided the defining sound of the wartime era. Miller’s band enjoyed huge popularity and commercial success – with an incredible 70 top-ten hits between 1939 and 1942. Miller’s trademark sound – created by combining the sounds of the clarinet and the saxophone in an unusual combination of instruments – made his music recognisable and it is still enjoyed by many today. Miller went to serve his country on the outbreak of World War II, and formed the Army Air Force Band in a bid to raise soldiers’ morale, giving hundreds of performances. It was as this band prepared to embark on a tour of Europe that Miller boarded a flight to Paris in December 1944 – which disappeared over the English Channel and was never recovered.

The enigma of Glenn Miller’s life is the subject of a new touring musical starring Tommy Steele. Britain’s original song-and-dance man, and star of such stage and screen hits as Half a Sixpence and Singin in the Rain, Steele comes on stage at the start of the evening to introduce the show. I expected him to be some sort of narrator or to be fronting the show’s 16 piece on-stage orchestra, but 79 year old Steele actually plays Glenn Miller, who died aged 40. Persuaded by his friend, producer Bill Kenwright, to play the part, Steele throws himself into proceedings with such enthusiasm that you can’t help but be won over, endearing himself to the audience in a series of gentle song and dance routines. Steele has a winsome, cheeky chappy persona about his character, and genuinely looks as if he is loving every second.

The Glenn Miller Story doesn’t provide any huge insights into Glenn Miller’s life but gives a broad picture of the main developments in his success and of certain life events, while enabling as much of his music to be performed as possible. The story alternately focuses on Miller’s professional life, including his friendship with pianist and composer Chummy MacGregor, played light-heartedly by Ashley Knight, and Miller’s romance and relationship with his wife. Here, Sarah Soetaert brings focus to all her scenes throughout their years together, joining Steele for a playful ‘Zing! Went the Strings of my Heart’. Four of the onstage musicians also play roles in the cast and are joined by six dancers who augment all the numbers effectively.

Musically, it’s Miller’s most well-known standards like ‘Chattanooga Choo Choo’, ‘Pennsylvania 6-5000’ and ‘In the Mood’ that get the best reception from a largely mature audience who are no doubt familiar with Miller’s style. But it’s Steele’s show, and he’s pure and genuine entertainment right down to his finger nails. Steele’s parents apparently took him, aged four, to see Glenn Miller perform live, and Steele conveys the man who was meticulous with his music with his own sense of style. With two standing ovations for Steele at the end, and a further encore demanded after the scheduled finale, it’s no surprise that this tour recently announced further tour dates into 2016. As for Miller, who tragically disappeared in 1944 at the age of 40, his timeless musical style will surely never die.