Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Rat Pack Live At The Sands

RAT PACK’ imitation pleases the fans of the originals at the Palace

Walking into the Palace Theatre in Playhouse Square to see ‘THE RAT PACK LIVE AT THE SANDS,” was like being in a time warp back to the 1960s. The older crowd was dressed in the polyester style of the vintage Vegas. Yes, men in open collared colorful shirts, with crosses nestled in their chest hair and women with “big” hair and plunging necklines.

Why were they at the Palace? They came to see Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr., who, along with Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, were the most popular entertainers from the mid-1950s to the 1960s in Vegas. Of course, these weren’t the “real” pack, but that mattered little.

An interesting fact, that few probably know, especially based on his late-in-life conservative leanings, is that Sinatra refused to perform in any establishments that would not give full service to African Americans. As a result Las Vegas properties were forced to abandon their segregation-based policies.

The friends faded from popularity with the rise of the counter culture of the 1960s. Well, they lost popularity with some, but their loyal fans, like those who were at the opening night of ‘THE RAT PACK LIVE AT THE SANDS,’ remained loyal. It didn’t matter that these weren’t the real thing, they represented the real thing, and that appeared to be enough as the audience sang along, laughed at the corny jokes, and were willing to accept this was the closest that they were going to get to their favorite entertainers of the past.

Do not go expect a story line, there is none. What you’ll see is a review that attempts to duplicate an authentic night with the Rat Pack at the Sands Hotel. A night full of Davis clowning and dancing, Dean playing the drunk, and Sinatra playing like Mafioso and singing his favorite songs.

Don’t expect to see duplicates of Sinatra, Davis and Martin. The performers, Stephen Triffitt (Sinatra), David Hayes (Sammy Davis Jr.), and Nigel Casey (Dean Martin) generally look and sound like the originals, but none of them has the dynamism to grab and hold an audience like the men they are portraying. Yes, portraying, not being!

The big band, under the direction of Andy Rumble is excellent. Their versions of “Luck Be a lady,” “The Lady is a Tramp,” “New York, New York,” “Volare,” “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” and “My Way” were excellent.

Capsule judgment: This isn’t a performance for everyone. If you are into the music of the 50s and 60s, and are fans of Sinatra, Davis and Martin, then you’ll enjoy ‘THE RAT PACK LIVE AT THE SANDS.” Otherwise, it might not be your thing.