Ensemble cast delivers in 'My Way' . Cortland Repertory Theatre closes its season with the songs of Frank Sinatra.

Suzanne Connelly
Syracuse Post-Standard

Musical revues have a special charm for audiences especially when they are focused on the songs of an era or a performer. Cortland Repertory Theatre trusted such a revue would be a fitting ending for their 2002 summer season, and their trust was well placed. "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" provides an appealing evening of familiar songs, offered with cheeky enthusiasm by a talented cast of four.

This revue is a relative newcomer. It was first produced in 1999, the year after Sinatra's death, and had its premiere only two years ago. Don Davis, Marc Goldhaber, Carol Spradling and Amy Shute speak directly to the audience about Sinatra's life and times and, mostly, sing his favorite tunes more than 50 of them. The men are in tuxes, the women in evening gowns, and the whole evening has a vintage air. Set designer William Esty has created a nightclub set reminiscent of Sinatra's heyday, with nouveau curves as decorations and lots of palm trees. Musical director David Neal at the keyboards, who should be considered as the fifth actor playing a principal role, looks like a transplanted lounge pianist. His talented renditions of the songs, however, put him several notches above the lounge level.

Cortland Repertory Theatre cast includes (L to R Don Davis, Carol Spradling, Amy Shute and Marc Goldhaber. Directed by Chad Sweet, musically directed by David Neal and choreographed by Jeff Whiting. Photo by: David Blatchley.
"My Way" is divided into medleys, each focused on a particular theme. There's a Broadway medley, Young Love medley, Losers Medley. There is a lot of variety in the selections, which include standards, movie themes, numbers from Broadway shows, and even some of the bossa nova hits. The ensemble work of the cast shines. When they offer "I Only Have Eyes for You," "It Was a Very Good Year," "All The Way," and the rousing finale "My Way," they demonstrate fine work with both harmonies and phrasing. Their interactions reveal the enthusiasm they have for the music and for working with each other. Whether singing in tandem, as a quartet, or handing off the microphones for individual solos within a song, these four singers demonstrate near-perfect timing.

Spradling holds her own with a range of Sinatra songs. She does a good comic turn on "High Hopes" and offers a nice contrast with a lyric rendition of "My Funny Valentine." Spradling's phrasing is superb, and her sustain is impressive. Davis has the tongue-in-cheek, endearing quality of the irreverent Sinatra down pat. He is having fun with this role, and radiates confidence on numbers like "That's Life," "Fly Me To the Moon," and "Young at Heart."

Goldhaber brings an impish, boyish charm to his numbers. By the second act, he is really rolling. His opener, "Drinkin' Again," showed a real feel for the lyrics and was presented dramatically against the lush musical arrangement. "My Kind of Town" and "Chicago, Chicago" were real winners for him. He and Shute made a cute couple in "Love and Marriage" and pulled off some of the more difficult choreography.

©2002 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.

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