ACT'S 'My Way' is done 'their way'

Geri McShane
Tribune Lifestyles Editor
Albert Lea Tribune/ Thursday, February 2, 2006

Someone once asked Frank Sinatra the secret to his success.

He replied, "Sing great songs."

One could also say that's the secret of Albert Lea Community Theatre's latest production, "My Way," The musical tribute to Frank Sinatra, which opens tonight, includes 47 of those great songs.

But this show is also great because of the talent on the stage. Not only is the three-piece band, comprised of pianist Laura Virgil, drummer Ben Goodwin and bass player Teresa Iverson, phenomenal, but there are four of the area's most talented singers in Todd Utpadel, Diane Heaney, Jordan Bohonek and Nikki Phillips. Here you have a production like local audiences have never seen before.

From the opening notes of "Strangers in the Night," the audience can feel the magic. It comes from the elegance of the costumes, and the simple, yet efficient set, lit at different times by stars, the New York skyline or a full moon.

Duke Ellington once called Sinatra the "ultimate theatre," and that's what we have here. Sinatra had a song for every occasion, every mood and every emotion.

The singers launch into such favorites as "The Way You Look Tonight," "Sunny Side of the Street," "All of Me," "High Hopes," "My Funny Valentine," "Making Whoopee" and "I Get a Kick Out of You."

The singers did a "tour of Frank's world," with songs "Frank's women," culminating with "I Only Have Eyes for You."

Another highlighted the seasons, and yet another, love. Here, the audience is treated to "Love and Marriage," "The Lady is a Tramp," "That Old Black Magic," "It's Witchcraft," "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "When Somebody Loves You."

The second act puts the spotlight on the songs from later in Sinatra's career. All four singers get a turn with "It Was a Very Good Year." Other favorites in the second act include "Something Stupid," "Nice and Easy Does It," "You Make Me Feel So Young," and a whole section on songs about the moon. Sinatra, after all, recorded a whole album with songs about the moon.

And what would be a Sinata tribute without "The Best Is Yet to Come," "That's Life," and the title song, "My Way." An additional treat is "I'll Be Seeing You," and Sinatra's favorite toast, "May you live to be 100, and may the last voice you hear be mine."

The beauty of this cast Director Rory Mattson has assembled is not only their talent, but the ease cast members convey around each other. It's like they've all known each other for years. Mattson has truly done it "his way" for this show, and that is a very good thing.

We can't say enough about these singers. No one is trying to imitate Sinatra here. Instead, they all put their own special style to these songs. And the result is beautiful.

And they even seem at ease on the dance floor, thanks to the work of choreographer.

The set by Patrick Rasmussen, the sound by Tubby Petersen and the lighting design by Mike Wangen all work together to showcase the talents of the singers and dancers.

The show lasts just over 90 minutes, including an intermission. The time flies by.


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