Carousel Productions paints poignant picture
of a legend

Leah J. Simmons
Lifestyles Editor - The Daily Ardmoreite
Friday, February 27, 2004

It's said Frank Sinatra had a song for every move, for every time in your life and for every season. Listening to the old crooner's songs evokes feelings of nostalgia and a longing for the days when Old Blue Eyes himself entertained audiences at smoky little nightclubs.

Sinatra may be gone, but the essence of his music lives on in a unique and vastly entertaining way through Carousel Productions' performance of "My Way," a musical tribute to the man, the mystique and the legend.

In a cabaret bar setting, Jeff and Vicki Gelona and Bryan and Traci Royse take audience members on a "tour of Frank's world" through a series of medleys featuring snippets of 56 of Sinatra's nearly 1,400 songs recorded during his lifetime.

Creators David Grapes and Todd Olson , who wrote the show and compiled the songs, warned audiences of the world premiere at the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville in 2000 that the ir intention for the show was not to be an impersonation of Sinatra, but for the four actors -- playing the mselves -- to present the essence of the man through his own music. And that's just what happens.

The actors start out on a stage set with musicians in the back, a two-seater bar on one side and a cabaret table on the o the r. Spotlights follow the performers across the floor from one setting to the next as the y talk about Sinatra's life and the rich history behind his music, and as the y belt out the heart of old favorite songs.

The the atrics built into the performance and interaction between the real-life couples adds a spark of humor and life to the show, keeping it from being a laundry list of tunes you've heard a thousand times.

Sinatra's songs are grouped in medleys by subject matter -- the favorites, the Broadway tunes, the "city" songs, songs of summer and the moon, songs for survivors, losers and, of course, lovers.

During the "Love and Marriage Medley (Part 1)," Jeff and Vicki alternately try to teach the ir youthful counterparts, Bryan and Traci, the dynamics of love through Sinatra's songs on relationships. The "Big Flirt Medley" offers advice on style, drinking, tipping, women and living. The starlights come out as singers swoon about the moon, and interspersed among the singing and action, dancers Scott and Juana Meadows and Bryant and Laura Harmon kick up the ir heels, punctuating the mood.

The show gives each of the talented singers a chance to show the ir stuff singly and in rich four-part harmony, putting the ir own spin on favorite Sinatra tunes. And all the old favorites are included, along with songs you forgot you knew. And you'll be left salivating for more and aching for just one more trip back in time.

"My Way" explores the richness of Sinatra's life experiences, each success and regret, every win and loss, all adding up to a life full of laughter, tears, pain and passion. This is a show that can be seen numerous times and it will never get old, just like Sinatra's music will never grow outdated or irrelevant.

Like the performers say, the master may be gone, but the voice will live on forever. And presented by the se particular four voices, it's an experience you'll want to last forever.

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