Edinburgh Fringe 2014
Music to sing along to with a set featuring songs made famous by these three iconic performers
To C’s cavernous basement theatre in Chambers Street, where a twelve piece band under the capable baton of musical director James Ball welcomes drenched incomers on yet another wet Edinburgh evening with scene setting fifties jazz and swing as a prelude to a set with The Rat Pack – Messrs Martin, Davis and Sinatra.
Dean Martin’s first up, slurring his way perfectly through a short set of three of his better known tunes before giving way to Sammy Davis Junior who in turn introduced arguably the main rat in the pack, Frank Sinatra. Variety was provided with a nicely executed number from the lads’ talented female backing duet before the threesome combined for a rollicking finale.
It’s a pretty simple format – song, bit of badinage, next song, next artist and so on, but all the better for it. Some deft spotlighting ensures that mood and pace are changed regularly to good effect and segueways were swift and effective. Just about every old favourite was in there, too many to list individually but the chances are that, if you are familiar with each artist’s work, there’ll be something in there that you can’t resist singing along to. Most of us in the back row were certainly joining in anyway.
Whether to be an impressionist or impersonator is always a dilemma in shows like this. Our trio went firmly down the impressionist road, using authentic accents and mannerisms but without trying to match exactly either the verbal or singing style of the real members of the pack. It worked.
Singing was pretty much top drawer and the band had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate the abundance of talent within its ranks. Perhaps a bit much was made of Martin’s well known battle with the bottle but that’s a minor quibble. What was striking about this production, however, was that the average age of this troupe can’t have been much above mid-twenties. Nothing remarkable for the Fringe, I suppose, given the general preponderance of youth up here at this time of the year. Yet how refreshing it was to see musicians who were born long after these three great artists had left the stage enthusiastically keeping their work alive and kicking.
It was all over too soon (for this crooner in the back row, anyway) and their advertising blurb suggests that this is their last year at the Fringe. Catch them while you can.