The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas
New Victoria Theatre, Woking, and touring
Review by Sheila Connor
Their lifestyle was glamorous, high living, stylish and expensive, but this show doesnt shy away from the fact that there were strong and potentially dangerous connections with the underworld, and the Mafia in particular. Before the curtain rises a Noo Joysey voice assures us that this show is not in any way sponsored by organised crime. Nuff said - and its not referred to again, but that thought is left in the mind. Not everything in their way of living was to be envied.
This tribute to three of the greatest entertainers of all time deserves a suitably opulent set and Sean Cavanagh has provided one, as glitzy, extravagantly expensive and stylish as you would expect at the Sands Hotel, backed by the first-class fifteen piece orchestra adorning the back of the stage, and applause and cheers ring out as Frank begins to sing.
Tam Ward doesnt have quite the same swagger, the lean and hungry look or the air of dicing with danger that characterised Sinatra: hes much too nice a guy, but he has to perfection The Voice, the phrasing, the timing, the intonation and the trick of hitting a note just off key before sliding onto it. Close your eyes and you could easily be in Las Vegas and Ol Blue Eyes right there in the room with you.
He introduces the show as I sing a couple of numbers, Sammy does two and a half hours, and then we get Dean out of the dressing room, which straight away confirms what we know of each character, and the banter and fooling-around is constant between the three easy, relaxed buddies having a great time together, enjoying the company and insulting each other as only the best friends can. No politically correct phrasing for them and no compunction about referring to each other as Jew, Wop, blind, drunkard or black. They interact nicely with the audience too, ad-libbing in a laid-back, natural, friendly style which is funny yet never offensive.
A versatile and talented Jason Pennycooke is Sammy Davis Junior and he has the style, mannerisms and comedy perfected. A singer, dancer and drummer as well as actor, his most memorable numbers were "Birth of the Blues", "Mr. Bojangles" and an exquisitely rendered "What Kind of Fool am I?"
Mark Adams gets right under the skin of Dean Martin: he could almost be the man himself as he lumbers drunkenly about the stage full of genial bonhomie, glass always in hand and chatting happily. "Thats Amore" - always associated with Dino - brought cheers of recognition, and of course Frank has some of the favourites - "Thats Life", "My Kinda Town" and "My Way" - each one wildly applauded.
The essential girls are provided by the backing group, the Burelli Sisters, there to provide the glamour - and director Mitch Sebastian has given them choreography which is mainly a series of poses designed to show off their fabulous curvy figures and long legs - but their singing is magnificent too.
The programme prints a list of some of the songs which may be performed, so nothing it seems is set in stone which keeps the show fresh and alive, and provides the coolest party in town. Its around eight years ago that the show first opened in London and its been running ever since. The legend will survive for ever!
Touring to Leicester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Buxton, Brighton, Southport, Stoke on Trent, Bristol, Bromley, Richmond, Dublin and Leeds