The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas
Theatre Royal Haymarket Until 3rd February
Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
Back in 2011 I visited Las Vegas and saw The Rat Pack show in its hotel cabaret style environment. I was interested in seeing what it would be like in the more formal surroundings of a theatre.
At the start of the 1960s, The Rat Pack led by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were the toast of Las Vegas. With the world’s rich and famous jetting in to see them joke around and sing some of the finest songs ever written, the guys also starred together in a series of glamorous Hollywood films, set fashion trends, rubbed shoulders with the US President, politicians and mobsters… and partied hard as the coolest cats on the planet. The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas recreates that special time. This week the previous Christmas show has been revised and now The Rat Pack has the addition of Ella Fitzgerald, in celebration of the centennial of her birth.
Seeing is believing isn’t that what “they” say? Well I’d certainly agree with that statement when it comes to the performance of Garrett Phillips as the legendary Frank Sinatra. Every characteristic of old blue eyes is there and the sound is phenomenal. It really is uncanny a truly astonishing performance. Nigel Casey as Dean Martin is full of charisma and fun blends well with the cast. Particularly with the female cast of the Burelli Sisters exactly what you would expect and want. David Hayes as Sammy Davis Jr gave a great performance and pulled off the illusion admirably.
The addition to the show of Ella Fitzgerald played by Nicola Emmanuel was a real treat for the ears. Her smooth voice and classy elegance gave the evening an extra appreciation of the golden era of song. The super sassy Burelli sisters (Rebecca Parker, Joanna Walters, Amelia Adam-Pearce) completed the glamorous cast.
At times, due to certain now considered non-pc jokes falling flat, the timing seemed a little lacking in pace and laboured. That said, the audience soon got back behind the cast on hearing the opening bars of the next iconic song.
Which brings me to the sensational ‘big band’ under the musical direction of Matthew Freeman. The authentic sound superbly complimented the outstanding casts vocals. My personal favourite numbers included Luck Be A Lady, Mr Bojangles, That’s Amore, Sway, New York New York, Volare, Night and Day, The Lady Is A Tramp and of course My Way.
Having previously seen the show in Las Vegas in a cabaret setting, for me the intimacy, convivial environment and general ambience was lost in a theatre space. I would have preferred other venues to have been used, as personally it did detract from my enjoyment.
Nothing however dampened my enthusiasm for the songs or the performers portrayals. As I said, in my opinion, the evening belonged to Garrett Phillips as Frank Sinatra – a truly astonishing performance.
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