They get a kick out of revue
'My Way' singers and quintet glide from smoky to sparkling in a show of Sinatra tunes.
Daryl H. Miller, Times Staff Writer
Los Angeles Times

Great songs tell great stories, heard to best advantage when sung by someone who's a gifted storyteller as well as a skilled vocalist. Frank Sinatra was one such singer. In fact, you might say he led the pack. So his career is well suited to the theatrical treatment it receives in "My Way," the "celebration of Frank Sinatra's music and style" being given its West Coast premiere at La Mirada Theatre.

Rather than attempt to imitate Sinatra, the show sets out to re-create the late-night, bourbon-soaked, cigarette-hazed hipness that his singing evokes. Swank if insubstantial, the program — presented by McCoy Rigby Entertainment — tips its hat to a bygone era, while serving as a showcase for several popular Southland musical theater artists: director Nick DeGruccio and singer-actors Nikki Crawford, Tami Tappan Damiano, Kevin Earley and Damon Kirsche.

The setting is a nightclub that sports the sleek, sharp look of mid-20th century Modernism. "Strangers in the Night" sets the mood as the four singers enter and hook up. Exchanging smoldering glances, they proceed to woo and rue.

Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, "My Way" presents 58 tunes in a revue format that resembles "Ain't Misbehavin' " or "A Grand Night for Singing." Songs include "All the Way," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Love and Marriage," "(Love Is) The Tender Trap," "My Kind of Town," "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)," "Witchcraft" and, yes, "My Way."

Brimming with wit and sophistication, these tunes are grouped largely by theme: songs about cities, about love, about lost love and so on. Often, they're strung into mini scenarios, as when a guy's cocky rendition of "I've Got the World on a String" is deflated by a gal's sarcastic observation about his "High Hopes." Crawford, with her big, dusky voice, and Earley, with his velvety baritone, develop personas as the quartet's worldly wise members, while Tappan Damiano, who possesses a clarion soprano, and Kirsche, who has a boy-singer's shimmering baritone, are more wholesome.

Solos sometimes build into duets or slinky four-part harmonies. A superb quintet, led by Tom Griffin, accompanies with arrangements that are smoky and bourbon-soaked here, sparkling and martini-fueled there.

Costumer Scott Lane dresses the men in tuxes and the women, for the show's second half, in sumptuous evening gowns — one an inverted champagne flute of fuchsia, the other an elaborately side-bustled confection in violet.

Lighting designer Steven Young paints hot reds and romantic blues onto the set's gauzy curtains.

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