SUMMERFEST CABARET

My Way' celebrates Old' Blue Eyes' music.

Start spreadin' the news -Summerfest Cabaret Theatre's production of "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" is a cool way to spend a hot summer night.

From "Strangers in the Night" to "New York, New York," four of the best singers that Birmingham has to offer -- Carl Dean, Kristi Tingle Higginbotham, Jan D. Hunter and Lonnie Parsons -- croon and dooby-dooby-doo their way through nearly 60 songs made famous by the Chairman of the Board. It's a wonderful trip down memory lane, conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson.

They have divided Sinatra's songs into categories like "Cities Medley" and "Big Flirt Medley," and that works quite nicely. 99 percent of "My Way" is music, and it's impeccably performed by Summerfest's talented quartet and a fun, swinging band, led by Elaine Davidson, who plays a mean piano.

The four singers are old friends who starred in Summerfest's first cabaret show, "The All Night Strut," three years ago, and their camaraderie is apparent throughout. When they sing together, their harmonies have a Manhattan Transfer-like quality.

Singing solo, they can all blow you away, as they proved time and again during Thursday's opening performance. Particularly noteworthy was Dean, who all but channeled Sinatra with his smooth style, snazzy dance steps and easygoing voice.

"My Way" is a fine tribute to Sinatra, with the cast avoiding Sinatra impersonations and instead doing his songs their way.

Even the oft-performed and maligned title tune is stirring by the time this group is through with it.

ALEC HARVEY -The Birmingham News.

Summerfest Cast - Carl Dean, Kristi Tingle Higginbotham, Jan D. Hunter and Lonnie Parsons.
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