Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Christmas with The Rat Pack - Darlington Civic Theatre

Christmas with the Rat Pack
Director & Choreographer:Mitch Sebastian
Musical Director:Dominic Barlow
Reviewer:Linda Barker

Celebrating the incredible singing talent of three legends of the twentieth century, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, this spectacular festive production transports you back to the glamorous, glitzy nights of The Sands Hotel, Las Vegas, in the late 1950s and early 60’s.

Collectively known as ‘The Rat Pack’, Frank, Dean and Sammy were a force to be reckoned with. Now, their talent, energy, charisma and mannerisms are stunningly recreated by Stephen Rashbrook (Sinatra), Mark Halliday (Martin) and Matthew Henry (Davis Jr). The guys are also joined by Robyn Currell, Nikki Stokes and Rachel Parrott as the fabulous Burrelli Sisters.

In terms of sheer sophistication, nothing quite compares to the sound of a big band and three great singers. The camaraderie between the three performers was evident and they clearly enjoyed every minute of the show as much as the audience did. The talented twelve piece band was also in fantastic form, although they sometimes seemed to drown out some of the vocals.

The show began with a selection of ‘Rat Pack’ hits including ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, ‘Mr Bojangles’, ‘Sway’ and ‘New York, New York’, before taking a more seasonal turn.

Classic Christmas songs such as ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’, ‘Let it Snow, Let it Snow’, ‘Baby it’s Cold Outside’ and ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ were also given the swing treatment.
The show authentically recreated the perfo
rmance styles of each crooner. Numbers were performed with a cigarette in one hand and a large scotch in the other and Sammy Davis Jr was the butt of a couple of mildly racist jokes. Although this may have offended or upset some of the more politically correct members of the audience, I felt it was a necessary element that had to be included as a matter of historical accuracy.

The crooning continued with those stalwarts of every Italian trattoria, ‘That’s Amore’, ‘Volare’ and ‘On an Evening in Roma.’ Also included, for good measure, were a couple of songs from the musicals: ‘Mack The Knife’ from ‘The Threepenny Opera’ and the title song from ‘Guys And Dolls.’

As you might expect, the evening was rounded off with one of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ biggest numbers, ‘That’s Life’, much to the delight of the audience, most of whom were swaying, swinging and singing along.
Photos from previous production
Runs until Saturday 28 November 2009
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