Little Theatre of the Rockies - Sinatra tribute a 'feast'

John Bromley
Greeley Tribune

"MY WAY" IS a guided tour of the music of Frank Sinatra, with snippets of nearly 60 of his songs sung by four of the University of Northern Colorado's more musical seniors. The Little Theatre of the Rockies' tribute to the late, great Sinatra is led by graduates Ashley Betton and Dan Watkins and also features Greg Bailey and Maren Eucker. The show is a labor of considerable musical scholarship, a melding of Sinatra favorites from his earliest musical days to the end of his long life and career.

The songs are arranged topically -- about Broadway, the moon, cities, show tunes, love songs -- rather than chronologically. And if the evening's great frustration is that you get to hear few songs in their entirety, its joy is that you really do get to explore the range of Sinatra's musical tastes and thematic interests. He was a complicated and varied artist. The show's strength is in the depth of its scholarship, its exploration of the range and diversity of his gifts.

Betton is, as always, a stunning, charismatic woman who sings as divinely as she acts and dances. Watkins' style and manner have shown increased musical mastery and maturity in each of his shows, and this is no exception. Relative newcomers Bailey and Eucker reflect in their best songs the talent that is characteristic of director John Leonard's bench of stellar singers.

The women's costumes -- 1950s cocktail dresses in the first act, formals in the second -- are both vintage and attractive, and Dan Guyette's final UNC set -- he is off to be a dean -- is a masterwork.

The show is set in a nightclub, with stairs rising the width of the stage. Lighted tortoise shell sconces frame the playing space, the band displayed behind attractive period bandstands. The singers are placed at a bar on one side, a cabaret table on the other and stairs on which to dance in the center. A lighted "Sinatra" sign hangs over the stage, and the whole effect sets the dialogue-sparse show securely in the various moments of Sinatra's triumphs.

Leonard's direction focuses on the music, which is a Sinatra-lover's feast.


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