Tuesday, 26 February 2008

The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas - TOURING

The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas - Touring
Monday 18th February
New Wimbledon Theatre.
Reviewed by David Saunders

I must say I arrived at the Theatre in Wimbledon a little biased and ready for a good night out. I am a huge fan of this era of music and in turn of the three artists being paid tribute tonight. I already have the DVD recording of this show and have been to see Stephen Triffitt once before in his own Sinatra Tribute show.

The basic premise is that we are at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas witnessing one of the mythical ‘Summit’ shows that Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr played in the evenings in Vegas while filming the original ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ film in the early sixties. The set designed by Sean Cavanaugh is an arrangement of backlit and projected shapes this in conjunction with the stepped ‘Big Band’ style stage layout mirrors the easy elegance of the show itself. The minimal lighting design by Mark Wheatley is solid and serves to merely add the required glitz to what is a sparkling show doing what all good lighting should setting the right mood for the performers to ‘step on’ to.

The direction and choreography by Mitch Sebastian lends the piece an air of ease as the performers ‘swing’ their way around the multi layered staging never seeming to really have to work hard this is due to the flowing direction and choreography that while not flaming hot was slick and sexy enough to get the point across.

Now to the performers. The excellent Stephen Triffitt once again reprising his role as ‘Old Blue Eyes’ has the audience in the palm of his hand from the get go. He effortlessly channels Sinatra and gives a performance brimming with charm and elegance that would make the ‘Chairman of the Board’ sit back and enjoy a glass of Bourbon safe in the knowledge that he was being done justice.

Dean Martin was played by Nigel Casey and while not the most convincing impersonation the performance had the easy relaxed way with the audience that Dino was so loved for. It is in the links between numbers that Casey is strongest delivering the one liners with relish and nailing the Martin slurring delivery.

The hardest working of the trio seemed to be Michael C. Harris giving life to the nonstop energy and fizz of the ‘Smallest Man in Show Business’ Sammy Davis Jr. From the opening number which took the audience by surprise after the calm of Sinatra, Harris stormed the stage a bundle of showbiz razzle-dazzle. His finest moment came in the delivery of ‘Mr. Bojangles’ his rich tones giving the story of an old hoofer a deep melancholy which provided the evening with an emotional punch.

The Burelli sisters played by Sophie McEwan, Lisa Donmall and Lucy Holloway brought some wonderfully vivacious appeal to the piece. Each one of the sisters bringing Hollywood real glamour to the Wimbledon Theatre.

Finally the Band backing the boys gave the evening a real feel of what it means to be a talented musician each one of them playing with the sort of sharp style and flair that the wonderful arrangements demand.

To end this is not high emotional theatre. Trust me this is not Bond’s The Sea at the Haymarket or Othello at the Donmar but trust me it is all the better for it. The performance left this reviewer desperate to get home and hear his ‘Summit at the Sands’ records as soon as he got home.
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