Edinburgh Fringe 2012
"See Frank, Sammy and Dean’s world-famous recordings brought to life live on stage" with added Berelli Sisters and 12-piece jazz orchestra.
Welcome to Las Vegas,as Dean Martin takes to the stage, and we are in for a swinging hour of the best of the Rat Pack, set in the days when they ruled the stage and there was no one to match them.
If you are seeking visually perfect lookalikes of Sammy Davies Junior, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, then look elsewhere. These aren’t strict impersonations, these are renditions. They don’t look like them and they don’t sound that like them in terms of vocal exactitude. But what they do is capture their essence in a way that marks this evening out as a fine piece of fringe musical theatre, that occupies that borderland between fringe and mainstream without a care.
And there’s no failed attempt here. The aim is clearly to capture that essential essence, to render those special times in the now in a venue that doesn’t completely lend itself to the Rat Pack Feel. It needs skilled observation and realisation on stage. It needs attention to detail, in music, in portrayal, in set pieces, and in mood. And it had all of those things, achieved with high accomplishment.
And that’s where Hartshorn Hook usually excel. There’s no million pound budget but theres a creditable backing band, some deft piano and then there are the songs and fun and games on stage. The songs delighted the audience and the vignettes, the rat pack shenanigans in between and during some of the numbers were a delight.
I saw a lot of foot tapping and smiling in the audience. I loved Sammy’s Mr Bojangles because it amounted to a piece of accomplished physical theatre. Dean was suitably drunk and tall Frank commanded the stage and really took us back.
It was a very enjoyable show with just the right mix of favourite numbers and quirky others. As the hour professed the rat pack feel deepened and, by the end, the carefully observed renditions of the three and their three female guests emerged as strong character performances as theatre in their own right.
Sometimes the sound mix wasn’t quite right. At other terms all elements converged into stellar moments.
This was a fine hour of my favourite music but it becomes highly recommended because the main three converge so well and create a performance that is accomplished, fun and, despite the lack of visual resemblance, evokes the milieu with much quality and panache.