Gaslight Dinner Theatre does it 'My Way'

Amy Stumpfl
Nashville City Paper 

The cast of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra includes (left to right) Sara Schoch, Ryan Hunt, Julie Meirick and Chris Boerner.
Someone once asked Frank Sinatra about the secret of his success. He answered with three simple words: "Sing good songs." And, boy, did he ever. With a career that spanned more than five decades, Old Blue Eyes delivered hit after hit, creating the soundtrack for an entire generation of Americans. The Gaslight Dinner Theatre brings his amazing career to life with its new production of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, My Way made its world premiere at the Tennessee Repertory Theatre in Nashville in July 2000, where the two served as producing artistic director and associate artistic director, respectively. An imaginative and wholly entertaining musical revue, My Way features more than 50 of Sinatra's greatest hits.

The show opens with two guys (Ryan Hunt and Chris Boerner), who meet up with two classy dames (Julie Meirick and Sara Schoch) at a nightclub. Over the next two hours, the two couples flirt, fight, make up and reminisce their way through some of Sinatra's best-loved standards, including "All of Me," "The Best is Yet to Come," "Chicago," "Fly Me to the Moon," "High Hopes," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Love and Marriage," "Makin' Whoopee," "My Funny Valentine," "New York, New York," "Strangers in the Night," "Summer Wind," "That Old Black Magic," "That's Life," "The Way You Look Tonight" and, of course, his signature hit "My Way."

Director Pacer Harp has once again assembled a multi-talented cast for the show, including a nice blend of new faces and local favorites. Gaslight regulars will certainly recognize Hunt, who once again serves up an outstanding performance. Along with his obvious talent as a vocalist, Hunt has a charming way of delivering lyrics as if they just popped into his head. He connects with his audience at every opportunity, and even though this fresh-faced Indiana native looks absolutely nothing like the Chairman of the Board, he probably comes closer than anyone in the cast to capturing Sinatra's charm with songs like "Makin' Whoopee," "My Kind of Town" and "Witchcraft."

Newcomer Sara Schoch also knows how to work her audience, delivering sassy renditions of "All of Me," "Love and Marriage," and "The Best is Yet to Come."

Meirick displays an incredible range with lovely ballads such as "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "L.A. Is My Lady," but she really shines with more upbeat numbers such as "I Get a Kick Out of You."

Boerner rounds out the ensemble, offering great harmony and a touch of humor with songs such as "Something Stupid" and "I've Got You Under My Skin."

Backing up this solid cast is a silky-smooth band, including pianist/musical director Will Barrow, percussionist Dan Sherrill and Bobby King on bass. Johnny Todd serves as front man for the band - a true crooner who gets the audience rolling with "Summer Wind" and helps to bring it all home with "That's Life" and "My Way." While the entire cast sounds terrific, Todd offers just enough swagger to make you feel like you're the newest member of the Rat Pack.

Even if you're not a big Sinatra fan, there's no denying his appeal not only as a singer but also as an actor and an American icon. My Way delivers a healthy dose of nostalgia - honoring the man and his music, without resorting to cheesy impersonations. True, there will never be another Sinatra. But thanks to My Way, Old Blue Eyes will never be forgotten.

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