Sunday, July 12, 2009

review - My Way

My Way:
A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra
created by David Grapes & Todd Olson
directed by David Grapes
Moult6on Theatre @Laguna Playhouse
through August 23
Frank Sinatra has been impersonated in The Rat Pack and in various night club settings. Some actors do him very well, such as Stephen Triffitt in The Rat Pack Live at the Sands; others do not even begin to do him justice as in Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara, so maybe it's just as well that we do not get this treatment in My Way at the Laguna Playhouse. Although, somehow, when I saw the graphic advertisement for the show, that's what I expected. No, indeed, this is a revue of his music, neatly packaged and tied up with a bow. Four super-talented artists sing and chat about ole' blue eyes, quoting him a bit and telling a little story now and again about his womanizing or philosophy of fast living.
David Grapes has put together a slick piece that is high on entertainment, but hardly cutting edge. The performers are all good...with music that is... inspirational. It lingers for all time. As Sinatra himself once said about the key to his success: SING GOOD SONGS! Of course, the Italian immigrant who became a band singer, movie star and a great legend, was never humble for a second. He hoped that people lived to be 100 and that the last voice they heard would be his. Moving around the spacious bar set (Bruce Goodrich) with the ease and poise that made Sinatra a demigod, Casey Erin Clark, John Fredo, Karen Jefferys and Jason Watson entertain for 2 hours, singing individually, in couples and all together... favorite standards such as "My Funny Valentine", "All of Me", "High Hopes", "New York, New York", "The Tender Trap", "That Old Black Magic", "Witchcraft", "All the Way", "That's Life" and of course, "My Way". The songs are divided into categories like: Songs for Survivors, a Losers Medley, a Moon Medley (Remember Sinatra's concept album in the 60s to coincide with Earth's moonwalk?), Young Love, Love and Marriage, and a Broadway/Film Medley. There's even an encore - which Sinatra never did -"I'll Be Seeing You". All told, it's a nice celebration of the spirit of Sinatra who gave us a song for every mood, every emotion.
The second act is more reflective than the first with each performer drinking alone: "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry", "One for My Baby" and "It Was a Very Good Year". The last was a favorite of mine at a very early age; I guess I was old before I was young and understood life as Sinatra obviously did when he sang about it. Costumes here in black (Lou Bird) are elegant, particularly the ladies' dresses with a touch of either blue or mauve.
Great musical accompaniment from: Vince Di Mura at the piano, Drew Hemwall on drums and James Leary on bass. They never stop cookin'!
Overall, a great dinner theatre or cruise ship evening full of beautiful music but low on surprises. Go for the foursome: I particularly loved Fredo's terrific tapping and Clark's clean and sultry vocal stylings.
4 out of 5 stars


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