Photo Credit: Bob DeDea channels smooth crooner Frank Sinatra in “My Way” at Centerstage Theatre.
Centerstage Theatre's
'My Way': Doing Sinatra his way

Michelle Smith Lewis
Tacoma News Times

It isn’t easy to sustain two-plus hours of the same songs with no plot or characters. You need good singers, visual interest and a sympathetic audience.

Centerstage Theatre last Friday night had all of these. “My Way,” a tribute to Frank Sinatra, opened with a cast of four whose singing, acting and dancing talents weren’t all equal but combined well for an enjoyable evening, provided you have a soft spot for Ol’ Blue Eyes.

“My Way” basically is a two-hour Sinatra medley. Written by David Grapes and Todd Olson in 2003, it’s a kind of cabaret evening with a vaguely black-tie-party set (sheer drapes, chandeliers, a couple of armchairs and a drinks table arranged around a grand piano) and 1950s ballgown costumes. Four singers (two young, two older) take turns singing about 60 of Sinatra’s songs and telling his story through anecdotes. There’s a little bit of dancing, but the music’s the thing, and the Centerstage production does it justice.

Although “My Way” doesn’t attempt to recreate Sinatra in person, it’s clear Bob DeDea holds this show together. A Puget Sound theater veteran, DeDea is exactly the right age for Sinatra as most of us remember him: older but still with a twinkle in his eye and a leap in his step. After starting off a little cloudy opening night, DeDea soon found a smooth voice and suave style with favorites such as “What a Life” and “New York, New York” – and looking remarkably like the man himself in fedora and suit.

Matching perfectly was Laurie Clothier, looking gorgeous and executing kicks and pirouettes admirable in actors half her age. She and DeDea both summed up the gallant flirtatiousness that epitomizes the crooner style, from “The Best is Yet to Come” to “Strangers in the Night.”

Less authentic, maybe, but impressive vocally were the youthful couple Matt Posner and Katin Jacob-Lake. Posner’s powerful baritone handled showstoppers such as “Chicago” effortlessly; Jacob-Lake’s clear mezzo was more musical theater than jazz (“My Funny Valentine”).

Backing them was the terrific trio of David Duvall (who also directed) on piano, Bob Matthews on bass and Bruce Simpson on drums, following the swift song changes without flaw and creating a laid-back musical scene.

Plenty of mood lighting gave contrast and helped along the narrative, which flowed through Sinatra’s youth, bad times, love life and waning years. The pace was excellent as the four actors related factoids (Sinatra recorded 1,400 songs in his life, and swam 100 laps every day for lung power) and anecdotes (his advice on hats: tilt them). A couple of personal memories brought the cast closer to the audience, and the near-finale quartet “That’s Life” raised goosebumps.

And yes, “My Way” is in there. It’s the finale and a good one shared by all the cast.

It’s the kind of evening that gets the audience smiling, embracing, remembering and singing tunes on the way out to the parking lot.

If you like Sinatra, you’ll love “My Way.” ‘My Way,’ a tribute to Frank Sinatra

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