Start spreading the news – The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas is in town and what a fantastic show it is! The Rat Pack were of course Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr, quite simply three of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 60s. Individually they were amazing, together quite unbeatable – stylish, effortlessly cool and hugely talented.
This production, which runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until 26 May, focuses on the trio’s legendary shows at the Sands, Las Vegas, which took place while the boys were in town filming the original version of Ocean’s 11. It shows the performers at their best, singing, joking and drinking their way through a set of simply some of the best songs of the era, backed by a live orchestra and inviting the audience in on their private party.
Of course, to recreate such a show needs performers who can do justice to the style, talent and reputation of these singing greats, and on the whole, this production succeeds. Stephen Triffitt as Frank Sinatra is simply spectacular. From the very start, Triffitt dominates proceedings, just as his character would have done back in the day. Not only does he look uncannily like the great man, but his voice mimics the soulful tenor impressively and his grasp of Sinatra’s many mannerisms are clear evidence of a wonderful actor who has studied his subject to the finest degree. Yes, I was hugely impressed!
While Sintra was the chairman of the board, Dean Martin was the super smooth Italian lothario, with a drink in his hand and voice to die for, and Nigel Casey fills his shoes beautifully. OK, his voice doesn’t quite have the same depth as Martin in his prime, but the character and timing were superb, while his increasing tipsiness as the show progressed was presented beautifully.
Perhaps of the three, Darren Charles as Sammy had the toughest call. Sammy was known as the performer’s performer, an incredibly energetic and hugely skilled dancer, as well as a powerful singer, and for Charles’ to have taken on both skills together would have been a tall order. The result is that while the voice certainly has the feel of the original, and the impish tomfoolery is fun to see, the lack of dancing was a pity, albeit an understandable move.
Of course, what helped to make these incredible shows the legend they became wasn’t just the three stars, but the songs as well, and what an incredible set list this production delivers. You Make Me Feel So Young, Mr Bojnagles, Everybody Loves Somebody, New York, New York, Volare, The Lady is a Tramp and so many more, all performed live with a superb orchestra on stage, this was a joyous tribute to a golden age of music.
Add in a guest spot with Nicola Emmanuel giving a hugely creditable performance as the first lady of jazz, Ella Fitzgerald, plus the backing vocals of the Burelli Sisters, and it’s impossible not to get swept up with the mood of the show.
I hugely enjoyed this show and judging by the rapturous applause as the final notes of that inevitable Sinatra showstopper, My Way, still hung in the air, so did the rest of the audience. What a treat!
The Rat Pack: Live from Las Vegas appears at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday 26th May. To purchase tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk