Cast meets challenge filling Sinatra's shoes

PENNY STARR
The Island Packet

June 27th, 2003

Frank Sinatra is gone. But he's still a hard act to follow. That's why "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra," on stage through July 19 at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, isn't being billed as an attempt to recreate Ol' Blue Eyes. Instead, it's meant to treat the audience to a wide selection of the songs he recorded (13,000 over the course of his career) and share some common and little-known facts about his professional and personal life.

The foursome taking on this challenging task -- Meredith Inglesby, Kim Shriver, Charles Bergell and Bob Barth -- are talented. Each holds their own on solos, with Bergell getting the highest audience approval rating for his emotional rendition of "That's Life." Shriver shined with "My Funny Valentine" and Inglesby (who grew up here and now lives in New York), is the consummate femme fatale and sings sweetly. Barth admirably met the challenge of Sinatra trademark tunes such as "My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)." Still, it's when all four vocalists join forces that the musical review takes on its own style.

Some notable examples include the four-part harmonies in "Dream," "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "I'll Be Seeing You." The show also charms with the tidbits the actors share about Sinatra, from his penchant for booze to his dislike of chain smokers and strong cologne. The virtual whirlwind of songs -- part or all of 53 songs comprise the review -- also prove fodder for trivia fans. Although I consider myself a diehard Sinatra fan, there were more than a few songs I hadn't heard before, including "L.A. is My Lady" and "My Lean Baby."

As for the other "stars" of the show, the trio that shares the stage with the cast -- Penny Rose, pianist and musical director, Peter Berquist on bass and Ray McClain on drums -- are amazing. Their contribution to the show can't be underestimated and anyone who has played for a live show will appreciate their demanding, almost constant two-hour repertoire.

The crew deserves credit, too, for a set and lighting that offered the perfect ambiance and designer Jennifer Correll did it again with fabulous costumes for the ladies. All in all, "My Way" is an entertaining way to spend an evening, even if I left the arts center feeling bad. I'm still kicking myself for passing up that Sinatra show in the early '90s in Las Vegas.


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