Sinatra revue never overshadows music

Michael Grossberg
The Columbus Dispatch

The eyes - and ears - have it in My Way, a lilting and stylish tribute to Frank Sinatra. Senior Repertory of Ohio Theatre Company's classy production, which opened Friday to frequent applause, gives the off-Broadway musical revue a polished staging, rueful wit and simple elegance.

Under the smooth direction of Steve Black and musical director Nancy Nocks (on piano backed by a drummer and bass player), the four-member cast puts a zing in 0l' Blue Eyes' upbeat numbers and finds the bittersweet undertones in his repertoire.

Although yesterday morning's opening attracted mostly senior citizens, the two-act revue brims with a romantic appeal that cuts across generations. Here's a show for the "young at heart," those with "high hopes," couples tired of "the same old song and dance," anyone who's gone "all the way,” people who still like "makin' whoopee" and everyone else whose stories Sinatra immortalized.

The casting reflects and reinforces the implicit dramatic arc of innocence and experience, with Gary Blankenhorn making a respectable stage debut and Angelina Orlino (who also added to Senior Rep's The Fantasticks, A Grand Night for Singing and Gifts of the Magi) shining in her farewell Columbus appearance before moving to Oklahoma.

Veteran performers Eileen Howard and Ted Amore ably represent the older generation, who have the experience and humor to mentor the young and add a touch of cool.

Howard and Orlino are the strongest singers. Among Orlino's most enjoyable numbers: The Best Is Yet To Come, South of the Border and All of Me. Howard's rich voice dominates her duets with the men (I've Got You Under My Skin, You Make Me Feel So Young) while lending poignant depths to her best solos (That Old Black Magic, The Way You Look Tonight) and company-backed excerpts (All the Way).

More than 50 songs are excerpted in well-selected theme medleys about young love , marriage, losers, survivors, flirtations, the moon, the summer, Broadway and the cities that Sinatra loved.

The full-length songs include: Strangers in the Night (a well-done ensemble number that opens the show), Love and Marriage (a peppy duet between Blankenhom and Orlino), The Lady Is a Tramp (Amore, adding a jaunty wryness) and several rousing ensemble finales (New York, New York; I'll Be Seeing You, and the title song).

Julie Russell's swaying choreography is just varied enough to reinforce the warm and seductive atmosphere without distracting from the main focus: the music.


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