'Frank's world' of music thrives in Grand show

Noel Gallagher,
Free Press arts & Entertainment Reporter

Like everything else in his tempestuous life and storied career, Ol' Blue Eyes did songs his own, unique way. That reality is celebrated in My Way -- A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, the nostalgia-rich revue that launched its Grand Theatre run last night.

Thom Allison
Warm memories were immediately triggered by the evening's initial offering, Strangers in the Night, which was recorded by Sinatra in 1966 and became his last song to top the hit charts.

Baby boomers in the London crowd probably recalled that Strangers was also released by pop singer Jack Jones. But his version was doomed the moment the master applied his patented vocal style to the song's wistful, romantic lyrics.

Directed by Bruce Dow, the Grand's Sinatra tribute wisely makes no attempt to imitate its title figure's original sound and phrasing.

Offered, instead, are some of his greatest tunes, rendered with loving respect by top-flight vocalists Thom Allison, Sharon Matthews, Kate Hennig and John Devorski.
Kate Hennig

Devorski doing I've Got the World on a String and Matthews' work on Where or When were among highlights of the production's first act, which ended with the foursome's inspiring delivery of All the Way, the classic Sammy Cahn-Jimmy Van Heusen composition.

The revue's songlist features 56 titles, a formidable number, yet a mere fraction of the more than 1,300 tunes that were given the Sinatra treatment during a performing history that lasted more than 50 years. After dominating radio, movies, television and the recording industry, the superstar played at sold-out concert halls around the world. Though that legendary career ended with his death in 1998, at age 82, "the king of cool" lives on in the music still beloved by legions of fans.
Sharron Matthews

Sinatra's simple formula for success -- "Sing good songs," -- is followed by this show's talented cast members who get solid backing from musical director Stephen Woodjetts's four-piece band.

owever, sentimental tunes and the singing artist who made them famous remain the primary attractions of the revue, whose second act boasts his later, more melancholy material. In that collection are It Was a Very Good Year, One for My Baby, I'll Be Seeing You and Young at Heart.

John Devorski
The rousing finale features a pair of Sinatra's hugest hits: That's Life and the
show's title tune, My Way, which became the singer's unofficial anthem.

"This is Frank's world and we all just live in it," singer Dean Martin once observed about his longtime pal.

My Way puts that world on a string and allows its audience to revisit it for two very entertaining hours.

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