My Way croons a classy,
swinging tribute to Ol' Blue Eyes

BILL JONES
Democrat-Gazette

Frank Sinatra sang songs for grown-ups. One of the chief pleasures
Of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of My Way, a musical tribute to "The Voice " by David Grapes and Todd Olson, is that it reminds the audience that the best popular music has an emotional range beyond adolescent attitude.

From the days of Tommy Dorsey to the era of Nelson Riddle, Ol' Blue
Eyes recorded more than 1,300 songs. In a thematically arranged sampling of more than 50 high points from his career, four cast members clad in tuxes and evening dresses proved that Frank still rocks , or, more precisely, swings.

The musical revue opens with martinis and "Strangers in the Night," sung by John Fredo (who doubles as choreographer), Jennifer Kathryn Marshall, Douglas Kampsen and Kathy Weese. Each performer takes turns throughout the show addressing the audience and providing context. A "Favorites Medley" follows, which includes a comic take on "All of Me" by Weese and a ring- a-ding-ding rendition of the 1953 hit "I've Got the World on a String" by Fredo. In a "Broadway Medley," Marshall offers a sensual version of "My Funny Valentine," while Kampsen turns "Makin' Whoopee" into a witty lament.
A survey of songs about cities introduces the signature Sinatra hat as an essential prop in "New York, New York." The "Young Love Medley" spotlights Fredo and Marshall in a dance during "My Lean Baby." Other medleys deal with love and marriage, losers, survivors and the moon. Fredo nails "Summer Wind," capturing Sinatra's style without impersonating the singer. With each solo, especially "The Tender Trap," "I've Got You Under My Skin " and "One for My Baby", he conveys the essence of Sinatra's instrument based phrasing. And he absolutely steals the show with a loosened-tie, high-voltage "That's Life."

Excellent accompaniment is provided by Vince di Mura (musical director and piano), Roy Murdock (stand-up bass) and Patrick Lindsey (percussion). An art-deco set by Tom Gleeson enhances the urbane atmosphere.

My Way continues at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre through Nov. 10. More information is available at 378-0405.


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