'My Way' offers fun glimpse into those Old Blue Eyes

Jaime North
Staff Writer - Chambersburg Public Opinion

Pictured from left are:
Pat McRoberts, Merideth Kaye Clark, David
Hemsley Caldwell and Jo Ann Cunningham.
Seconds after the performers walk on stage, the audience is transported back to the nightclub scene of 1940s. Who better to best represent the decade's nightlife than Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra.

Totem Pole Playhouse opened up its 54th season Saturday with "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra," a two-hour performance that features more than 45 recorded songs.

With the shadowed backdrop of a city skyline, the stage sets the mood with vintage tables, chairs, bar, microphone and a three-piece musical set-up of drums, piano and string bass.

The four-person cast effectively depicts Sinatra's signature mannerisms on stage with casual play to the audience, facial expressions and even a scotch on the rocks in hand -- everything short of Sinatra's trademark cigarette.

David Hemsley Caldwell, Jo Ann Cunningham, Merideth Kaye Clark and Pat McRoberts team together to exchange lyrics and soundbites chronicling Sinatra's 50-plus year entertainment career.

"Upon seeing the production one realizes the dozens of songs that were made familiar to us simply because they were popularized by Frank Sinatra," said Carl Schurr, producing artistic director at Totem Pole.

"He was a wise artist in selecting wonderful songs to sing and they were made all the more wonderful because of his unforgettable styling." Clark says during one monologue, "Frank said the key to good music comes from three simple words. Sing - good - songs." That's exactly what the show brings out -- good songs.

The tribute opens with "Strangers in the Night" and closes with "I'll Be Seeing You" with two separate takes of "New York, New York."

Other notable songs performed include "The Way You Look Tonight" and "High Hopes."

The audience gets a taste of Sinatra's lifestyle through soundbites of notable tid-bits between songs.

"Frank's favorite toast was ... may you live to be a 100, and may the last voice you hear be mine," Cunningham tells the audience before breaking into song.

The performers tell a simple story of Broadway life, Sinatra's love for world travel, the essence of summer and, of course, the ups and downs of love. It's just like Sinatra said, "You only live once, and the way I live, once is enough."

The audience gains a basic sense of what Sinatra meant about his eccentric lifestyle, which consisted of:

His love for music.

His love for entertainment

And his love for women.

Each song perfectly tied together to tell an entertaining story of Sinatra that made the audience chuckle, sigh, quietly sing along and fall into a romantic mood during classic love melodies such as "Moonlight Serenade" and "Young at Heart."

The show effectively captivates you. Even the most unknowing Sinatra fan will catch himself or herself singing "I Only Have Eyes for You" and "The Way You Look Tonight" on the ride home.

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