Reviews: Theatre by the Sea
Ocean State Theatre - Matunuck, RI

Providence Phoenix.com

By Bill Rodriguez, June 2, 2009

…this terrific production opening the season at Theatre by the Sea The sea … captures fireflies in a bottle, with old favorites as well as songs rarely heard. It explores areas of interest to Ol' Blue Eyes, with songs bundled in various categories, from being young and in love to being down and out to not letting troubles beat you.

This production is as classy as the guy himself tried to be.

My Way is the kind of revue that should set the standard. It's not just a string of songs, it's also a coherent musical collage, a portrait of a personality as well as of the millions of listeners who appreciated it.


South County Independent

By Johnette Rodriguez, June 4, 2009

Fredo was in the show's premiere production in Tennessee as well as several other productions in other states. Certainly his experience with "My Way" must contribute to the way his voice and his mannerisms capture Sinatra (eerily so at times). And his tapping has a loose and easy glibness to it (also like Sinatra's - do you remember him tapping?); Fredo's way with these songs is smooth but never slick. His timing utilizes the unexpected pause, the crafted syncopation that was as natural to Sinatra as his next breath. Clark shines in the torch songs, such as "That Old Black Magic" or "All the Way." Her voice holds up to the intensity of the lyrics, and her delivery is sure and true. Watson's solos are also on the mark, with pleasing renditions of such classics as "Witchcraft" and "Makin' Whoopee."

Though musical revues often feel like an extended late-night cabaret, this one is accomplished with such panache that it's an appropriately light entrée to summer in South County. And it has the extra punch of pithy quotes from Sinatra: "I know what the cat who wrote the song is trying to say." Didn't he, though?

The Warwick Beacon

By Don Fowler, June 3, 2009

Grapes’ direction keeps the two-hour show moving at a rapid pace, with songs intermingling with some well-known and little-known facts about Old Blue Eyes, plus some of his clever quotes. Grapes is a master of segue, including solos, duets and quartets to showcase the songs. The four singers together reminded me a bit of the Modernaires.

Fredo reminds me of Sinatra without trying to impersonate him. He has the moves, the phrasings, and the voice. The other singers were good, if not spectacular.

“My Way…” makes for a pleasant evening of entertainment, a nice way to start the season at TBTS.


BroadwayWorld.com

By Randy Rice, May 30, 2009

In TBTS’ production, which is directed by its co-creator, David Grapes II, the set is dressed like one can imagine the inside of the Brown Derby might look like.  Two male leads and two female leads take the stage dressed to-the-nines and lead the audience through Sinatra’s career, from Bobby Socks to Ol’ Blue Eyes.  No one is trying to make you believe that you are seeing Sinatra himself.  The evening may well be a tribute to the Great American Songbook, or to Sammy Cahn, as each of these play as strong of a role in the production.

The talented cast includes Casey Erin Clark, John Fredo, Karen Jeffreys and Jason Watson.  The show is designed to present four equals. Each member of the cast can sing quite well, but it is Fredo’s above-average tap skill and his unhurried approach along with his experience with the material that make him the top dog in this production.

The quartet is back by a swinging jazz trio with John C. Brown as Music Director and on keyboard, Mike Sartini on drums and Sean Farias on bass.

There is really nothing not to like about My Way.

The EDGE

By Christopher Verleger, June 3, 2009

Four extremely talented performers--two fine gentlemen (John Fredo, Jason Watson) and two classy dames (Casey Erin Clark, Karen Jeffreys)--help the audience travel back in time to the days of Fred-and-Ginger, Duke Ellington and swanky Manhattan night clubs of yesteryear.

Each of them pays tribute to Sinatra in his or her own way--Clark as the sensible sophisticate, Jeffreys as the impressionable ingénue, Watson as an awestruck admirer and Fredo as the resident relic. The result makes for a delightful, charming and remarkably pleasant evening of song, dance, music and romance.

The accompanying three-piece jazz trio (John C. Brown/Keyboard, Mike Sartini/Drums, Sean Farias/Bass) is impressive, authentic and worthy of a show unto itself. Mark Halpin’s stage design beautifully recreates a vintage night club scene, reminiscent of the Rainbow Room, complete with leather seating, dim lighting and shaken-not-stirred martinis.

Whether you’re due for a stroll down memory lane or just wish to revisit the early influences of today’s artists, My Way is an irresistible treat for audiences of all ages.

The Providence Journal

By Channing Gray, May 31, 2009

It’s an entertaining couple of hours filled with some familiar and not so familiar tunes sung by a hard-working vocal quartet.

The first thing you should know about this show, though, is that it does not feature Sinatra impersonators among the cast of two men and two women. This is a show featuring music Ol’ Blue Eyes made popular, not a line-up of sound-alikes. Although it must be said that John Fredo, who has been with the show since the beginning, does sound a little like Sinatra, with that reedy voice of his. He’s also got plenty of stage presence. And he’s a terrific tap dancer, who cut loose a couple of times. That’s not to suggest that Sinatra was a tapper. It was just a chance to spice up the show a little, to add a little variety, and to let Fredo show what he can do on the dance floor.

There are groupings of songs, though, such as the Broadway medley, with a sultry performance of “My Funny Valentine” by talented Casey Erin Clark, and a Love and Marriage set that featured such hits as “That Old Black Magic,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and of course, the catchy “Love and Marriage.”

The singers took turns soloing, pairing up for duets and joining in four-part harmony for numbers such as “Strangers in the Night.” Some of the tunes are heard only in medleys, with the signature songs — “That’s Life,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “My Way” — sung in their entirety.

So, what I found was you don’t have to be a big Sinatra fan to enjoy this show. And if you are a Sinatra fan, all the better, just as long as you’re not looking for imitators.

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