Our first dance at our wedding was “The way you look tonight” by Frank Sinatra, which makes it very obvious that we are fans of swing music and the man himself.
So, we were thrilled to be given the opportunity to see The Rat Pack live from Las Vegas at the Alex theatre in Birmingham.
The Rat Pack tribute show devised by director and choreographer Mitch Sebastian had it’s West End debut in 2003 and after 15 years is now touring the UK.
Costumes and stage design combine to create the image of the glitzy glamour so associated with the Las Vegas strip of the 1950s.
The Sands hotel Las Vegas is the setting for this fictional evening of entertainment; starring the legendary performers Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davies Junior and Dean Martin. Known collectively as The Rat Pack.
Garrett Phillips is the star of this production. He not only looks like Sinatra, he sounds exactly like Sinatra. He delivers the classic hits with power and emotion; My Way in particular was very well received by the audience resulting in a well deserved standing ovation.
David Hayes as Sammy Davies Junior delivers strong vocals, his rendition of What Kind of Fool am I was superb, but unfortunately, he is unable to deliver the dance routines in the easy to watch smooth style of Davies. Nigel Casey creates a friendly likeable Dean Martin. His vocals were impressive, but he failed to capture the classic baritone sound of Martin.
Backing vocals are provided by the Burelli sisters Amelia Adams Pearce, Rebecca Parker, and Joanna Walters. All have good voices and produce good harmonies which add to the overall sound of the production.
The skilled group of 12 musicians delivered a well-balanced big band sound which did not over power the vocals of the performers.
I had problems with the sexist and racial comments which were disguised as “banter” inbetween the songs. Okay, I know the production is set in a time when this was common practice, but it wasn’t right then and it’s not right now. This dialogue was dated and only made me feel uncomfortable.
In the second act of this new production the famous threesome are joined on stage by the first lady of jazz Ella Fitzgerald, played by the marvellous Nicola Emmanuel; who’s rendition of Night and Day was superb.
Emmanuel does not sound like Ella Fitzgerald, but she has a wonderful soul voice and her “scatt” is brilliant.
The stand out number of the show for me was Emmanuel and Phillip’s duet of That’s Why the Lady is a Tramp. Their two voices blended together perfectly to create a joyous sound.
This production was well received by the Birmingham audience, who by the end of act two were on their feet, swaying and singing along to That’s Life.
As for me, well I left the auditorium with the voice of Phillips well and truly under my skin.
The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas is at the Alex from the 27th – 31st March. It then continues its UK tour in Woking.
Theatretastic rating 3/5:
We say: “The star of this production is Garrett Phillips! Sinatra lives on in his powerful and emotive performance.”
- Before watching The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas our pre-theatre choice was Côte Brasserie.