Buffalo News

Review

A new jukebox musical has made its way to the MusicalFare Theatre stage, by way of an out-of-town workshop at the Little Theatre of the Rockies in Colorado.

"One More for My Baby," which had its world premiere Wednesday night at the Snyder theater, takes audiences on a nostalgia-fueled ride through the career of Frank Sinatra, as rendered by Frank DeCarlo, a down-on-his luck Sinatra impersonator trying to croon his way out of a troubled period in his life.

...author David Grapes II has created a genuinely likable character in De-Carlo. If you start the evening off skeptical about DeCarlo's authenticity, as I did, it doesn't take long before you find yourself rooting for the guy.

Frank (John Fredo) has entered a rough patch in his previously successful career churning out spot-on impressions of Sinatra's hits. He is playing to tiny crowds in VFW posts and hole-in-the-wall bars, staying in fleabag motels and ending his evenings with a few swigs of Jack Daniel's and a phone call to his daughter back home. His manager can't seem to get anyone else interested.

But Jack, who has racked up a $50,000 gambling debt, works his way to "a big score" so he doesn't default on the payment, the consequences of which would take on "Sopranos" proprtions. Meanwhile, in the back of his mind, he still entertains the idea of opening his own place, where he can finally sing his way instead of "My Way."

In the process, we're treated to a medley of convincing, Sinatraesque renditions of favorite tunes ...from "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" to "That's Life."

A good deal of credit for the show's appeal goes to Fredo, who gives DeCarlo an air of dejection imbued with bright-eyed hope, as well as a handful of gorgeously rendered tunes. His impression of Sinatra on "Autumn in New York," backed by music director Jason Bravo's sextet, is a highlight of the show.

Grapes obviously versed himself in the jukebox bio approach, mirroring the narrative flow of films like "Ray" and couching most songs in the context of actual performances, a la "Jersey Boys." There's plenty of humor, including an especially inspired scene in which Frank grudgingly appears on a morning talk show with a thoughtless shock jock (Gervasi).


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