YOUNGSTOWN — On opening night of “My Way, A Musical Tribute,” it was clear that Frank Sinatra did things his way, and the Youngstown Playhouse did things its way.

Under the direction of John D. Holt, cast and band members paid tribute to Old Blue Eyes with class and dignity. From start to finish, the years and tears, lives and wives of Sinatra's life were displayed for the Valley.

The tribute was presented in the form of a night club act. The atmosphere made you feel like you were in good Old New York City after prohibition broke at one of the mafia-run bars. With something resembling a house band in the background, four performers took the stage and sang their hearts out.

The actors and actresses portrayed roles of cocktail lounge singers who were there to sing and dance about the glory that was Sinatra. With locals Connie Cassidy as Rita St. Marie, Kristen Puccetti as Lucy Desmond and Aaron Franek as Sonny Bishop, a light shined on Sinatra's life.

Paul Hoffman, who played the part of Buddy Malone, is a Youngstown native, now of Cleveland. He played the same role in 2003 in Akron, and it showed. His professionalism and knack for the part kept the audience entranced as he sang Sinatra classics such as “The Lady is a Tramp,” “One For My Baby,” and “Young at Heart.”

Franek did an excellent job in his role, capturing the charisma of a young Sinatra, in more of a Johnny Fontane (The Godfather) way through his song.

Puccetti sang with grace and elegance Underlying the technically sound montage and performance were two love stories. The first was the relationship between Hoffman and Cassidy and the second was the relationship between Franek and Pettucci. Young Franek was nervous about dating Puccetti, so old Hoffman showed him a thing or two, Sinatra style.

The group performed various Sinatra hits such as “New York, New York,” “The Way You Look Tonight,” and of course “My Way” as the final song, and the one that filled the theater with emotion. From the senior citizens singing along to the teenagers hearing the song for the first time, it was a moment anyone at the Playhouse Friday night will never forget.

Duke Ellington onced called Frank Sinatra the ultimate theater. I urge you to join the folks at the Youngstown Playhouse to celebrate the legend.


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