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A CurtainUp Review
The Rat Pack
Lizzie Loveridge's original review
If you have moral or aesthetic objections to what is essentially a twentieth century phenomenon, the tribute show, then The Rat Pack is not for you. It does nothing more and nothing less than to recreate a night at the Sands Night Club in Vegas in 1960. There is no insight as to why Dean Martin drank so heavily, or how Sammy Davis felt about the jokes directed at him and what exactly was Sinatra's connection with the Mob. There is simply the music and the jocular ad-libbed repartee that endeared the three friends to their audience.
The music of course is just marvellous. From Davis' (George Long) rendition of "Mr Bojangles" which almost had the hairs standing up on my neck to Sinatra's classic repertoire, "New York, New York", "The Lady is a Tramp". Stephen Triffit is vocally a very good imitation of Sinatra and Sinatra's easy style. Mark Adams' Dino is very charismatic from his entrance with "That's Amore" to "Sway".
The nearer you sit, the less convincing are the three visually especially considering the huge backdrop portraits of the real guys, but I am near sighted and removing my glasses, I could pretend I too was watching the originals. The hairdresser has made a superb job of the hair.
Sammy Davis Jr's dance routine is scintillating. George Long is slight of stature and as agile as the great entertainer "Smokey". All three guys authentically grapple with the, now unnecessary, long microphone leads trailing them as they cross and criss-cross the stage. Dino and Davis sing the duet "Shall We Dance" from The King and I and frolic onstage. The three dancing girls in support have more feathers than a pillow factory and are delightfully tacky and mistimed in the dance moves.
There are pastiche numbers, new words to old tunes as in "When You're Drinking" to the tune of "When You're Smiling" Much of Dean Martin's humour centres around the Jack Daniels bottle. "I like to keep in shape. Right now I'm on a whisky diet. Last week I lost four days." Some of the comedy falls flat because we know they cannot be adlibbing and anyway they are not Frank, Dean and Sammy.
I cut my reviewing teeth on the musicals that fill regional theatres, homages to Buddy and Elvis, Roy Orbison and Eddie Cochrane. I know the pleasure these performances can bring for people, maybe in some sense recapturing their youth. "The Rat Pack" will give you that sort of nostalgia. The music sounds right, the orchestrations from the 15 piece orchestra are the ones you love and the performances are very good . . . . but it is all make believe.
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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