`My Way' shines at `new' RTG

By Journal Times staff
July 22, 2004

RACINE - The Racine Theatre Guild ushers in its 67th season July 23 to Aug. 1 with "My Way," a celebration of Frank Sinatra, the mystique, the man, and his music. Sponsored by WRJN and WEZY, "My Way" becomes the first show presented in the newly renovated space at 2519 Northwestern Ave.

Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, with book by Todd Olson, "My Way" features four singers (Rita Torcaso, Nick Holub, Teri Wilson and Michael Kroes) backed by a jazzy combo (Jane Livingston, Mike Gudbaur and Shawn Collins) interpreting the music Sinatra made famous. The setting is a nightclub; the time is the present.

While no actor actually portrays Sinatra, the two couples sing in Sinatra's styles, from the youthful crooner to the mature "Chairman of the Board." In between songs, the cast members remember the legendary leader of the Rat Pack.

Versions of 57 Sinatra mainstays are packed into this musical. Audiences of all ages will recognize and enjoy the love songs ("The Lady is a Tramp," "My Funny Valentine," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Strangers in the Night"), the mood pieces ("That Old Black Magic," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Witchcraft") and songs that will forever recall Sinatra ("New York, New York," "That's Life," "My Way").

Shortly after Sinatra's death in May 1998, Grapes and Olson decided they had to create a theatrical piece about this unique man. They found the key to understanding him was his music, and learned from research that he had recorded nearly 1,400 songs. "My Way" was written in 1999 and has been widely produced throughout the country in both professional and community theaters.

Heading up the Racine Theatre Guild production are music director Gregory Berg and choreographer Kara Ernst. The Guild's technical director, Kurt Oian, designed the set. Eric Guttenberg is the stage manager.

"My Way" audiences will be the first to experience the Theatre Guild's new look. This summer the facility has been undergoing a major transformation, including the complete replacement of seating and carpeting, installation of handrails and application of many gallons of fresh paint.

On Friday, WRJN/WEZY will host an on-stage competition after the performance, based on Sinatra trivia and/or karaoke with prizes awarded. Call the theater for details.

In addition, Midwest Airlines is giving away two round-trip tickets to any Midwest destination. Entry forms are available at the guild and at the radio station.

Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. (tickets $17) and Sunday performances are at 1:30 and 7 p.m. (tickets $15) from July 23 to Aug. 1. Discounts are available for seniors on Sundays, students ages 21 and under, season subscribers and groups of 20 or more.

The Racine Theatre Guild box office is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and one hour prior to each curtain time. On performance Saturdays, the box office opens at 2 p.m. For ticket availability and reservations, call (262) 633-4218 or visit the theater's Web site at: www.racinetheatre.org

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