Sinatra tribute will leave you singing

Charles Jarrett
Rossmoor News

"My Way-A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra," now at the California Theatre Arts Crossroads (CTA) Theatre in Walnut Creek, is a tribute to the style, class and indomitable spirit of one of the great legends in
American musical theatre and stage.

According his daughter, Tina, Sinatra "was a performer, · performing from the age of 5. Grandma said she would have to put a sock in his mouth to get him to stop singing. He was born to sing!" And boy did he sing. In fact, Sinatra sang circles around most other performers. His songs mirrored his love of life, his times, his trials and his tribulations.

"My Way" provides an outstanding evening of the crooner's style, a plethora of songs that will bring the lyrics and music to your lips, taking you down the musical lane he often traveled. More than the music itself, the presentation is terrific, and the show is a four-star evening of entertainment. The three piece band under the direction of Joe Barnett with Paul Sterling Arendsee at the piano, Andy Dillard on drums and Nadine Whitfield on a real, old-fashioned base are superb.

Barnett has brought a lot of really exciting theater to local audiences and this show is no exception. With the artistic expertise of Nate Pihl combined with the outstanding lighting design vision of Barnett and the brilliant scenic design concepts created by Jean-Francois Revon, this show is definitely "uptown" in every respect. Barnett has brought together four exceptional singing talents in John Haithcock, Emily Saxe, Leah Tandberg and Todd Carver, who deliver the goods, from swagger to swing to sweet melancholy notes to romantic refrains.

The review melds 56 of Sinatra's songs, including favorites such as "All the Way," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Strangers in the Night, "I've Got You Under My Skin," "My Funny Valentine," "High Hopes," "The Tender
Trap," "That Old Black Magic," "Witchcraft" and a few you may not be familiar with such as "My Lean Baby" and "Dindi." It allows us to revisit the magic moments he sings about and find ourselves humming his
great songs again.

Sinatra and Dean Martin sang and clowned together to the strains of "· take one sweet and tender kiss, take one stolen night of bliss, one girl, one boy, some dream, some joy, memories are made of this!" The memories will just keep coming, and I'm sure you will keep on humming at CTA's fun-filled evening of Sinatra.

Wend your way toward Crossroads' 'My Way'

Pat Craig
Contra Costa Times

Frank Sinatra may have been smooth and sophisticated as Jack Daniels Green Label, but his secret for success was quite simple and straightforward. Sing good songs -- it was as easy as that. And all you have to do is take a peek at the Sinatra songbook to see how strictly he stuck to his secret formula. There were few clinkers in the Sinatra repertoire, something that becomes quite evident as the beautifully wrought Sinatra tribute show "My Way" unfolds at Walnut Creek's Crossroads Theatre.

Actually, until someone observes just how excellent Sinatra's material was, you tend not to notice his impeccable taste in tunes. There was so much flash and attitude to the man, and such impressive style to his singing, that the material seemed to flow as naturally as if he were making it up as he went along.

But take a quartet of excellent performers, a hot three-piece combo and a set reminiscent of a mid-20th century night club. Then add the Sinatra songbook, and you realize just how much of Ol' Blue Eyes' success came from raw materials mined by the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, Dubin and Warren, Cy Coleman, Kander and Ebb, and even Paul Anka ("My Way").

With material like that, it's difficult to go wrong, and when it's handled by singers such as Todd Carver, John Haithcock, Emily Saxe and Leah Tandberg, you get an evening that is a singular treat, whether you are a fan of the Chairman or not.

Add the combo that includes Andy Dillard, Paul Sterling Arendsee and Nadine Whitfield, let director Joe Barnett blend it all into an intoxicating musical cocktail, and the treat becomes thoroughly memorable.

Wisely, Barnett and his troupe have the good sense to let the tunes do most of the talking. These are songs where all that's needed is a fine voice to carry them into the air. By trusting the tunes, the cast leaves its audience a bit spellbound with 56 songs sung all or in part during the performance.

The set, a simple but effective creation by Jean-Francois Revon, sets the combo center stage and gives the actors three levels and a couple of nightclub tables to perform around. And that is all they need to cast a spell that not only showcases some great music, but also tells a bit of a story about Sinatra, who, like one of the actors says, was the soundtrack to so many people's lives.

It could be the songs themselves, or the Sinatra style -- or, perhaps, both-- that make the music evoke such strong memories, but even those who came along years after Ol' Blue Eyes' first triumphs in the early '40s are still emotionally tugged by the music.

It would appear that Crossroads has quite a hit going with "My Way." This is the opening weekend, and the group has already extended the show.

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