A Review: ‘My Way’ showcases music of Sinatra and culture of era

Rob and Gayle Suggs
The Crier

What is it that is so essentially American, so iconic, about the legacy of Frank Sinatra? Is it the sheer Rat Pack swagger that captured an era or three of American can-do confidence? Is it the way he managed to reinvent his image from bobby-sox crooner to matinee idol to jukebox philosopher?

Maybe it’s something simpler: the way The Voice could fully inhabit the lyrics to a song, lay such thorough claim to it that by the final note, it was one more signature Sinatra tune, and other pop vocalists had to go begging. Judy Garland had it; Ray Charles, sure. But Sinatra—years after his death, the melody lingers on.

Case in pint: Stage Door Players’ celebration of all things Sinatra—not just the music but Sinatra culture itself. Frankly speaking, they get the tilt of the fedora, the rattle of the ice cubes, and the hep-cat lingo just right. At times you’ll want to sing along (distressed reviewer’s note: please refrain!). At other times you’ll say, “I never heard that one—but yep, it’s Frank.” And you’ll dive back into your Capitol or Reprise or Columbia box set.

Two male and two female singers phrase their way through more than fifty songs from Sinatra’s repertoire, including the signatures (“Fly Me to the Moon,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Strangers in the Night,” on and on) as well as a curio or two: “Can I Steal a Little Love?”; “I Believe.” Here are the romantic advice ditties; the barroom torch ballads; the anthems to independence (particularly the showstopper “That’s Life,” the most authentically Sinatra vibe of the evening).

Jim Alford captures the costumes and George Deavours the hairstyles without resorting to camp. Chuck Welcome’s set is the barroom where presumably the “Chairman of the Board” now presides up above.

Director Robert Egizio has brought together some excellent musicians who obviously love these standards. Stage Door regulars will welcome the return of Marcie Millard who shines on “My Funny Valentine” and “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry.” Millard is joined by three Stage Door newcomers, Courtney Godwin, Drew Archer, and Bryant Smith.

Godwin makes us smile with “You Go to My Head” and “Love and Marriage.” Archer charms us with “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” And Smith is perfectly suited for “The Lady is a Tramp.” The cast is particularly strong in harmony: “It Was a Very Good Year” is chilling, same as it ever was.

Musical Director Linda Uzelac keeps up on piano, with Dan Bauman on bass and John David Williams, percussion, hot in pursuit. Bauman also provides sound design, while Michael W. Magursky adds nice lighting touches. But the star of the production is the music itself.  

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