Cool tunes for a hot summer in Sinatra tribute

Greenville News
Ann Hicks

July 24, 2003

Thinking about leaving summer's heat behind? Consider ducking into the Centre Stage — South Carolina! production of David Grapes and Todd Olson's "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra."

The place is cool, way cool. Picture on stage an elegant white on black bar, cozy lighting, little tables, and a great little jazz trio tucked in the corner, led by bassist Shawn Allen grooving with Jahnna Reck on piano and Kevin Heuer on drums.

Rehearsing the Centre Stage-South Carolina! production of 'My Way' are Paula McWhite, foreground, Meredith Reed, left, Will Raglan, Beth Ann Baker and in back, Rick Connor.
The romance is fueled by nostalgia and bounced around by the lively quartet of Rick Connor, Paula McWhite, Will Ragland and Meredith Reed. Along with their helpers, the wonderful dancer Beth Ann Baker and her sometime partner Tim Doyle, the ensemble schleps, camps and flirts its way through a dozen medleys with names such as "Broadway," "Losers" and "Survivors."

It's a feast and a treat if you happen to like 56 of Sinatra's signature songs in a row with some fun commentary tucked between them.

The breezy cocktail of tunes and dance are stirred with ensemble, trio, duo and solo performances.

Wednesday night's dress rehearsal proved a success with the mostly Rotary Club of Greenville East members and guests.

Each song received generous applause and some brought the near-to-full house to a thundereous response.

But no one enjoyed it more than Britisher Hilda York. She knew every word of all 56 songs and lipsinced through the entire show. "I'm intoxicated by it," she said.
York, a widow, said she was courted by her husband in 1946 with "The Way You Look Tonight" and "Where or When." Wouldn't you know she got to hear both songs.

Veteran director Doug McCoy, an ardent fan of revues, worked hard to deliver a classy show.

... terrific energy and sexy vitality McWhite radiates with her every move and phrase.

Connor is close behind her. And when he hits his stride, as in "That's Life" and "My Way," he owns the stage.

Thankfully, what you are not going to find in this show is any attempts to mimic, copy, impersonate or otherwise make lame an honest tribute intended to remember Sinatra "The Voice."

"My Way" continues through Aug. 16, 2003 Call 233-6738.

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