Musical memories of Ol' Blue Eyes at CTC

VERDA MACKAY
Correspondent
08/11/2011

Alayna Roby and Andrew Hancock dance and sing their way through Chico Theater Company's "My...

The era of the late Frank Sinatra's musical genius were "Some Very Good Years." He had "The World On a String" as he sang his way into the hearts of America and around the world. And he did it "My Way."

The must-see "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra," opened at Chico Theater Company on July 30. Those who missed the mystique of Sinatra and the music he made famous can see it at CTC through Aug. 21.

Under the direction of Marc Edson, music direction by Carol Lane and choreography by Sheree Henning, "My Way" features two dynamic couples who take the audience from the 1940s swing era to the bright lights of Broadway with songs made famous by Ol' Blue Eyes.

Dressed in tuxedos and glamorous evening gowns, Alayna Roby, Andrew Hancock, Chiara de Benedetto Brown and Darin Young sang songs from upbeat tempos to plaintive ballads.

The stage setting was in a nightclub with a three-piece music combo playing from a raised platform across the rear of the stage. Music director Lane's sensitive touch on the keys of the baby grand piano was inspiring, as were Chuck Stefanetti on bass and Jay Lewis on drums.

"My Way" opened with each of the four singers in a solo part of "Strangers in the Night" and then wow! They began the first four-part harmony and it was awesome!

Sinatra was one of the most famous U.S. popular singers of his generation and a highly regarded film actor. He sang with the big bands of the 1930s. In the 1940s, he became the idol of teenage bobby-soxers, who swooned over his crooning, soft-voiced singing.

When he was asked, "What is the secret to your success?" He answered, "Sing good songs." During his career he recorded more than 1,300 songs.

The CTC vocalists gave animated performances as they sang 56 of those songs during the 90-minute show. In addition to their vocal prowess, they are to be admired for memorizing all the lyrics and musical scores. Songs were sung solo, in duet or in four-part close harmony. One song segued into another with delightful results.

Coupled with the musical sequences was interesting and amusing action. There was romantic tension, drinking scenes, comedic sequences and dance routines.

Hancock's funny facial expressions were priceless as he sang and danced around trying to win the attention of attractive blonde Roby.

She responded with "It's All Right With Me." All went well as they sang "Let's Face the Music and Dance."

"Dream" featured the opera-trained voice of de Benedetto Brown. The charming brunette is a newcomer to CTC and this is her first venture into musical theater. It is hoped audiences will see more of her talent.

A CTC veteran, Young sang the songs made popular by Sinatra with great feeling and expertise. He and Hancock performed an impressive song and dance routine to "Tender Trap."

"My Way" didn't feature hip hop, folk, ragtime, or gospel music, but brought back happy memories to the more mature audience. Many met, dated, proposed and married to the music made popular by Sinatra. Who could forget "High Hopes," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "My Funny Valentine," or "The Way You Look Tonight"?

While the entire near full-house audience was enthralled with the show, a few people carried their enthusiasm to extremes. Their constant yelling, screaming and loud applause after every song was distracting.

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