Welk Resort Dinner Theatre - My Way is 3 ½ stars (out of 4 stars)

Reviewed by Robert Hitchcox
San Diego Theatre Scene

Review Memories! In the late 40s a teenager in Detroit stood for hours to buy a concert ticket to hear "I’ll Be Seeing You" live. In the early 50s in New York he heard "I Believe", and in the 60s, as a young father, flew to Las Vegas to hear "Love and Marriage." On September 1st it was these and 53 other favorites from the repertoire of "Ole Blue Eyes," the incomparable Frank Sinatra, that moved me and wowed the audiences at Welk Resort Theatre’s presentation of My Way. From teen to seventy-something, the incomparable song styling of Sinatra has had an influence on my life.

My Way is directed by Nick DeGruccio. While maintain the Sinatra style, none of his excellent cast attempted to mimic The Man, only to compliment him in their presentation. DeGruccio recreated Dan Mojica’s excellent choreography emulating that strut and shuffle that Sinatra brought to his performances.

Set designer Andrew Hammer created a 50s look, replete with sweeping curves in

shades of blue from the proscenium to the back wall. What would a Sinatra location be without a cocktail table, a well stocked bar, and a stroll by the piano? The bandstand is occupied by music director Justin Gray on the ivories, Ted Hughart on the big bass, and Mike Masessa on the skins and cymbals. The illusion is complete with a mike stand supporting a circa 50s mike and a Sinatra signature, the dark fedora.

My Way is, of course, an homage to Sinatra and his music. The production includes quite a bit of history of him, his women (on screen, dating, and marrying), his successes, and much more. Katy Blake and Tami Tappan Damiano, dressed in black, are dy-no-mite. They give just the right twist to many of his key songs. Kevin Earley and Damon Kirsche bring both his charm and his swagger to the show.

Sinatra defined "cool" and this cast is cool, confident, and very, very talented. They know the walk, the toss of the head, the tilt of the hat, the dancing cheek to cheek. Each talented singer is also a dancer and actor. They know how to hold a glass and a cigarette, to sit on a piano, or to flirt. I appreciated that the cast were great reactors; one felt that they enjoyed each other’s performances and the whole experience of The Man and his music.

Jennifer Edwards-Northover’s lighting, which we have come to expect, is very showy, fitting this production perfectly. The Welk organization must be complimented for an excellent sound system and Sound Designer Patrick Hoyny for an excellent sound balance. The combo and voices were always just right. Carlotta Malone dressed the men in tuxedos with both black and white jackets. She started the ladies out in black; one in a sheath, the other a full skirt. A costume change and the ladies returned in form-hugging sheaths with high slits.

Whether you want to walk down memory lane or have a peek into ancient history, My Way is well worth the ride five miles north of Escondido. The music is outstanding. I know I’m aging myself, but these are lyrics with a punch and a story and melodies that are singable and hummable.

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