“The Rat Pack” stretches back seventeen years to the original idea that a stage show creating a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin had potential. And how! Record runs, countless revivals and a great deal of fun followed. This reviewer has seen and enjoyed quite a few of them but I think the show has reached a new level in this splendid revival at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. If by any chance you need cheering up even though it’s Christmas (or maybe because it is) this is a tonic to enjoy.
This is not a “Jukebox musical” – there is no real pretence that there is a plot and whilst the Great American Songbook is splendidly plundered (twenty-five standards from the repertoire plus lots of Christmas songs as well) this is really about the performers – the men rather than the music. Sinatra is the leader of the pack “This is Frank’s world, we just live in it”. Frank’s world is only partly the music – but when we hear the first few bars of “You make Me Feel So Young” in the famous Nelson Riddle arrangement there’s only one person who could sing it. Francis Albert Sinatra. (This was the problem with the ghastly “Sinatra Prom” in 2015 – a rare error of judgment by John Wilson. He meticulously replicated the orchestrations of Riddle, Billy May and the rest and then we had the likes of Seth MacFarlane to sing them. Not doing an impression of Sinatra, but in their own voices. Gruesome!).
In “The Rat Pack” we get impersonations of Frank and his friends. Every attempt is to make the three singer/actors look, behave and sound like the originals. In this new production all three do this wonderfully well. Garrett Phillips isn’t Sinatra – but he’s as close as you could get without cloning from a DNA sample. I absolutely loved his performance and, as you will have gathered, I’m a Sinatra purist. David Hayes as Davis and Nigel Casey as Martin were no less good and the interactions of the three of them were authentic as well. A joy.
This is a Christmas show (it morphs into a more conventional Rat Pak on 9th January with Ella Fitzgerald to join the boys). There is a large Christmas tree on the stage, Christmas songs and costumes. The three “Burelli Sisters” appear in a multitude of outfits which seemed to get sexier as the evening progressed culminating in Santa gear for “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”. Which I think you would! At the end “Frank” sings “White Christmas” with just piano accompaniment from arranger/musical director Matthew Freeman. To the manor born.
The twelve-piece band is excellent with some great Brass and silky saxophone playing the highlight. The arrangements follow the originals though obviously without strings and a slightly different instrumentation as a result. But like everything else this was faithfully done.
There is an effortlessness to this production that belies, I think, a lot of hard work to go with the talent. Sinatra once said “… throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note and every word I sing”. If you’re not Frank (or Sammy or Dean for that matter) you have to pay attention even more than the original. You need verbal dexterity, energy, insouciance, natural humour and a self-confidence to turn you into the real thing on stage. This is achieved in this production – a truly joyous evening in the theatre.
Review by Paddy Briggs
Christmas with the Rat Pack is still the coolest party in town so beat the winter blues with Frank, Sammy and Dean.
Drift back in time to the glamorous, glitzy nights of Vegas in the company of three of the world’s most popular entertainers and experience Frank, Sammy and Dean performing at the famous Sands hotel with the fabulous Burrelli Sisters and The Rat Pack Big Band.
Hit follows hit including pack favourites The Lady is a Tramp, Mr Bojangles, That’s Amore, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, What Kind of fool Am I, Volare and seasonal classics including: Baby it’s Cold Outside, Let it Snow, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland & Auld Lang Syne.
If you wish you’d swung with the hardest partying pack in town, book now for the perfect Christmas night out for all the family.
Christmas With The Rat Pack
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Booking Until: 6th Jan 2018
The Rat Pack – Live from Las Vegas
Theatre Royal Haymarket
Booking from 9th January to 3rd Feb 2018