Pac Rep puts on enjoyable Sinatra revue

Herald Correspondent

Sinatra, the musical has arrived! Well, musical revue, at any rate. "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra," is popping up on the theater circuit across the nation these days, delivering a massive dose of the singer's tunes in the voices of four singers (two men, two women) accompanied by a band.

The song sets, organized around themes, include some 60 numbers accompanied by a biographical smattering of Sinatra's triumphs, romances and peccadilloes.

"My Way," conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, breaks into 10 discrete segments spread over two acts as a thoughtfully tailored journey through the moods and styles Sinatra mastered and thrilled his fans with.

Jim Andy and Travis Poelle appear as the older and younger versions of Sinatra, respectively. Lydia Lyons joins Keller in exemplifying the feminine mystique in Sinatra's repertoire.

"My Way" is directed by Anne Marie Hunter with music direction by Stephen Tosh.

The two have created an evenly paced show shaped to support the integrity of each cluster of songs.

The production as a unit took its cues from Tosh and his excellent combo (Greg Bullock on drums, Don Eshoff on trumpet, Dan Lishin on sax and Sean Stillinger on bass), who executed the entire musical score with panache and skill.

In addition to splendidly representing the instrumental side of Sinatra's music, Tosh and his band supplied steady, attentive accompaniment to the singers charged with the enormous task of replicating the vocal experience of Ol' Blue Eyes.

The vocal prowess of Poelle, Lyons and Keller was consistent and spirited, with commitment to embodying the different styles, tempos and messages of Sinatra's songs.

Lyons livened up the show with her dancing and womanly allure, managing the impressive feat of making it all look easy in spike heals.

Poelle joined her in some snappy foot work. Andy contributed a few smooth moves as well as the elder crooner.

John Brady designed a functional three-tiered set with the combo elevated on the highest platform upstage.

The next level supplies the central staging area fashioned as a '50s cocktail lounge, "Frank's World" with stairs leading down to the front of the stage to the third area.

Tandy Messenger's costumes brought the Sinatra era to life with color and flair, complete with signature hats for the singers.

Sinatra's life -- with its extraordinary successes, dubious choices, womanizing and unique influence on popular culture -- makes a study in contrasts.

At one end of the spectrum he ranks among the great artists of the 20th century.

Sinatra also can, and has been, described with reasonable accuracy as a bi-polar, philandering thug.

Without question, Sinatra made a tremendous contribution to American music. And watching the tribute to him at Pac Rep, one is struck by the huge, wide-ranging body of songs that he preserved for posterity simply because he chose to make them his own in a world that adored him.

If Sinatra's music makes you happy, you'll want to check out "My Way."

Sinatra’s magic enthralls audiences at PacRep Theatre

Joyce D. Mann

Pacific Repertory Theatre launches its summer season with a stylish tribute to Frank Sinatra. The award-winning review, “My Way,” by Todd Olson and David Grapes, opened its Central Coast premiere on Saturday to a packed house of enthusiastic fans.

In his long and distinguished life, Frank Sinatra performed about 1,300 songs. “My Way” brings us 55 of the most memorable, spiced up with Sinatra anecdotes and quotations from Old Blue Eyes himself.

The pace of the show is nicely varied, ranging from torchy classics to bobby-soxer favorites. A quartet of excellent singers, Jim Andy, Lydia Lyons, Travis Poelle and Stephanie Keller, keep the evening hopping and feet tapping. Each singer is individually impressive. However, as an ensemble, they produce remarkable harmony.

Director Anne Marie Hunter does not make the mistake of presenting Sinatra clones. While Andy is well known for his performances of Sinatra numbers, and brings just the right amount of “New Jersey” to the mix, Lyons, Poelle and Keller perform in their own unique styles.

The music ensemble provides more than accompaniment. Greg Bullock (drums), Don Eshoff (trumpet), Dan Lishin (sax) and Sean Stillinger (bass), under the direction of Stephen Tosh (who also plays piano), conjure up nostalgic visions of the big-band past.

The momentum picks up as the evening goes along. Highlights of the program include “It Was a Very Good Year” (quartet), “Angel Eyes” (Andy), “That’s Life” (Andy and Poelle) and, of course, “New York, New York” (Andy and company). But there’s not a weak song in the program. It’s a positive delight to listen to well-written, intelligent lyrics set to heart-stopping music.

Going to the Golden Bough Theatre has become a Carmel tradition. The lobby has an air of festivity, which prepares the audience for a good evening of entertainment. Whether you’re a local resident or a visitor to the area, “My Way” is a delightful way to spend a magical evening in Carmel.

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