Theater review: Sinatra salute 'My Way' is good stuff

Tim Reid,
Senior Writer

Asheville Community Theatre recaptures the magic of Old Blue Eyes himself in "My Way - A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra."

This is not another sappy impersonation of an American icon but rather a toe-tapping, soul stirring tribute to the man and his music, which included some 1,300 songs recorded over five decades.

Barry Pate Jr., Sarah Judy, Daniel Nelson and Beverly Todd sing more than 50 of Sinatra's best-loved songs, including classics like "New York, New York," "Chicago," "That's Life" and of course "My Way."

Performing the music that entranced generations of Americans are musical director Chrystal Shelvey on piano, Wayne Kirby on bass and Perry Hines on drums.

"This is the soundtrack of our lives," the theater's managing director Susan Harper said in introducing the show, and indeed most audience members could indeed relate the tunes to periods in their lives.

Pate has an awesome voice, and his delivery can't help but remind you of the Chairman of the Board, sort of aloof and passionate at the same time. And the other singers are just as good, interspersing unforgettable songs with insights on Sinatra himself.

"Sing good songs" was the fabled crooner's pithy advice to aspiring singers, and for all his quirks and indulgences, Sinatra stayed true to his creed.

Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson of the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville, "My Way" was performed two years ago at Flat Rock Playhouse using primarily Actors Equity members.

This performance is just as good, a remarkable achievement for a community theater and a testament to the kind of talent we have in this area. While Flat Rock's performance featured a smoky nightclub setting, ACT's set is more neutral - just lushly textured wall panels and a couple of tables - with the emphasis on the music.

Stan Poole's costumes are a visual delight, recalling the era when people actually dressed up for an evening of entertainment. Director Susan Tracy and talented singers and musicians have added another fitting notch on the Sinatra legend. You'll love it "All the Way."

Tim Reid reviews theater for the Citizen-Times. Email

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