The U.S. tour of the smash-hit British musical revue The Rat Pack—Live at the Sands, now playing Raleigh Memorial Auditorium as part of Broadway Series South’s 2006-07 series, resurrects Frank Sinatra (1915-98), Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925-90), and Dean Martin (1917-95) for Baby Boomers, and introduces these three entertainment legends to a whole new generation of fans, who responded by giving Tuesday’s opening-night performance a hearty standing ovation.
Produced by Paul Walden and Derek Nicol for Rat Pack Touring, Ltd., in association with Paul Woolf, and staged with grand style and wit by director/choreographer Mitch Sebastian, this scintillating concert musical stars Sinatra imitator Stephen Triffitt as Frank, Davis imitator David Hayes as Sammy, and musical-theater veteran Nigel Casey as Dean.
Messrs. Triffitt, Hayes, and Casey splendidly recreate the greatest hits and the sometimes groan-inducing (and decidedly Politically Incorrect) between-song patter of a vintage joint nightclub appearance of Messrs. Sinatra, Davis, and Martin at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in 1960. Their vibrant vocals, performed with the fabulous 15-piece onstage Rat Pack Orchestra, led by musical director/conductor Andy Rumble, more than make up for the predictable between-song patter. (Phil Barley’s repeated denials, as the show’s Emcee, that gangsters are bankrolling the show are superfluous, and perhaps the show’s weakest element.) Bryan Davis (first trumpet), Andrew Sharkey (bass), and David Bryant (drums) combine with Rumble (piano) and 11 other hepcats and kitties to provide spirited instrumental accompaniment to each and every song.
Stephen Triffitt and David Hayes are the very image of Sinatra and Davis, respectively, both in looks and mannerisms and the distinctive song stylings that made Frank (a.k.a. Old Blue Eyes) the Chairman of the Board and Sammy the Hardest-Working Man in Show Business. Nigel Casey looks and sounds like Dean, and has Dino’s slurred speech and drunken, rubbery-legged shtick down pat; but he is somehow not quite as convincing as Triffitt and Hayes, who quite simply slip beneath the skin of their two unforgettable characters and sing and dance up a storm and cut the fool just like Frank and Sammy.
In a commanding performance, Stephen Triffitt makes ‘That’s Life,”“New York, New York,”and “My Way”entirely his own and sings a number of other Sinatra standards with the same impeccable phrasing, relaxed manner, and panache that earned Frank the nicknames of The Sultan of Swoon and The Voice. David Hayes delights the Broadway Series South audience with his robust renditions of “Mr. Bojangles”and “What Kind of Fool Am I?”and his amusing “Me and My Shadow”duet with Triffitt; and Nigel Casey adds crowd-pleasing performances of “That’s Amore,”“Volare,”and “Everybody Loves Somebody.”
Emma Hawgood, Andrea Winglelaar, and Giselle Wright sing and dance like (incredibly limber) tarnished angels as they play the beautiful and talented Burelli Sisters, the real-life trio’s fictional backup singers and dancers, with gusto. Dressed to thrill by costume designer Christopher Woods, these three bodacious backup singers really know how to trip the light fantastic.
The spectacular Sands Hotel nightclub set, designed by Sean Cavanagh and brilliantly lit by lighting designer Mark Wheatley, really shows off the fancy men’s formal wear and women’s glad rags, designed by Christopher Woods, so that The Rat Pack—Live at the Sands sounds—and looks—like a million bucks. Don’t miss this effervescent musical revue that makes the Sixties swing once again.
Broadway Series South presents The Rat Pack—Live at the Sands Thursday-Friday, Nov. 30-Dec. 1, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2 and 7 p.m. in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 1 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina. $21-$61. Progress Energy Box Office: 919/831-6060. Group Rates (for groups of 20 or more): 919/857-4565 or see the presenter's site. Note: The 8 p.m. Dec. 2nd performance will be audio described by Arts Access, Inc.. Broadway Series South: http://www.broadwayseriessouth.com/ [inactive 9/09]. The Rat Pack—Live at the Sands: http://www.theratpackliveatthesands.com/ [inactive 7/07]. The Rat Pack—Live from Las Vegas: http://www.theratpacklivefromlasvegas.com/ [inactive 7/07]. Stephen Triffitt (Frank Sinatra): http://www.stephentriffittonline.com/. David Hayes (Sammy Davis, Jr.): http://www.delafont.com/music_acts/David-Hayes.htm [inactive 2/07]. Nigel Casey (Dean Martin): http://theratpackliveatthesands.com/cast_nigelcasey.asp [inactive 7/07].