My Way: A Tribute To the Music of Frank Sinatra

Created by David Grapes & Todd Olson – Arrangements by Vince di Mura

 

Production Requirements

Cast
2 Men & 2 Women

Orchestration
Piano
Bass
Drums

Setting
A Nightclub

Since its premiere at the Tenness Repertory Theatre in 2000, My Way: A Tribute to the Music of Frank Sinatra continues to be one of the most popular musical reviews in musical theatre history with over 500 productions and multiple national tours, playing to sold out houses in all 50 states. Audiences and critics alike have hailed its powerful music superb arrangements, classy style, and easy-going comedy. Containing 55 incredible songs from the Great American Songbook, My Way celebrates the mystic of Frank Sinatra and the unforgettable music that made him famous.

My Way – Musical Numbers

Act I

Opening to Act I
Change Partners by Irving Berlin

Favorites Medley
Cheek to Cheek by Irving Berlin
Blue Skies by Irving Berlin
All of Me by Gerald Marks and Seymour B. Simons
I’ve Got the World on a String by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler
High Hopes by Sammy Cahn and Seymour B. Simons

Cast Members Intro

Broadway Medley
My Funny Valentine by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Where or When by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart
Let’s Face the Music and Dance by Irving Berlin
Makin’ Whoopee by Walter Donaldson and Gus Kahn
It’s All Right With Me by Cole Porter
I Get a Kick Out of You by Cole Porter

Cities Medley
I Love Paris by Cole Porter
How About You? by Ralph Freed and Burton Lane
My Kind of Town (Chicago Is) by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen
South of the Border by Michael Carr and James B. Kennedy
Chicago, Chicago by Fred Fisher
L.A. is My Lady by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Quincy D. Jones and Peggy Lipton

Young Love Medley
My Lean Baby by Roy Alford and William May
I Believe by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
Let’s Get Away from It All by Thomas Montgomery Adair and Matt Dennis
I Only Have Eyes for You by Al Dubin and Harry Warren

Summer Underscore

Summer Medley
Something Wonderful Happens in Summer by Joseph Bushkin and John De Vries
Summer Wind by Hans Bradtke, Heinz Meier and John H. Mercer
Indian Summer by Al Dubin and Victor Herbert

Love and Marriage Medley (Part 1)
The Tender Trap by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen
Should I Reveal? byHerb Brown Nacio and Arthur Freed
Can I Steal a Little Love? by Phil J. Tuminello
The Same Old Song and Dance by Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen and Bobby Worth
You’re Cheatin’ Yourself by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning

The Lady is a Tramp by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart

Love and Marriage Medley (Part 2)
That Old Black Magic by Harold Arlen and John H. Mercer
Witchcraft by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh
I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Cole Porter

All the Way by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen

Act II

Opening to Act II

Losers Medley
Drinkin’ Again by John H. Mercer and Doris Tauber
Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne
One for My Baby by Harold Arlen and John H. Mercer
It Was a Very Good Year by Ervin Drake
Here’s to the Losers by Jack Segal and Robert Wells

Big Flirt Intro

Big Flirt Medley
You Go to My Head by Fred J. Coots and Haven Gillespie
Something Stupid by C. Carson Parks
Nice ‘n’ Easy by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman and Lew Spence
Young at Heart by Carolyn Leigh and Johnny Richards
You Make Me Feel So Young by Mack Gordon and Josef Myrow

Moon Medley
Dindi by Aloysio De Oliveira, Ray Gilbert, and Antonio Carlos Jobim
Wave by Antonio Carlos Jobim
Dream by John H. Mercer
Moonlight Serenade by Glenn Miller and Mitchell Parish
Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard

Songs for Survivors
This is All I Ask by Gordon Jenkins
The Best is Yet to Come by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh
Theme from New York, New York by John Kander and Fred Ebb

My Way by Paul Anka, Gilles Thibault, Claude Francois, and Jacques Revaux

Curtain Call
Theme from New York, New York by Kander and Ebb

I’ll Be Seeing You by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahal

Exit Music
Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard

Reviews

“Sinatra said that the secret to his success was to sing great songs. My Way offers some of the greatest music of the 20th century in a smart tight production that has broad audience appeal. Every night the audience is on the feet cheering for more.”

“The entire run was sold out before we opened. My Way is the successor to Forever Plaid.”

“Frank would have loved it.”

“Sinatra’s liking for women and alcohol, and his legendary talent – recording nearly 1,600 songs in a career that spanned generations – are remembered fondly. The performers do not try to mimic Sinatra but rather to recreate the man and his mystique through his music. Particularly moving were the songs celebrating cities, everything from “I Love Paris” to “Chicago” and the immortal “New York, New York.” “I’m Going to Live Til I Die” seemed to best capture the spirit of Sinatra, and of course “My Way” made a triumphant finale.”

“Old Blue Eyes would be proud.”

“I thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to get to know Frank Sinatra, and his music, better. I think you will too. If you already love Frank, like so many at the theatre did last night, you’ll no doubt want to make this musical tribute a must see.”

“Sinatra himself was a study in contradictions. The hot-tempered Vegas high roller and the quiet philanthropist. The skinny “Swoon-atra” and the paunchy “Chairman of the Board.” The Oscar-winning actor and the Grammy-winning singer. By the end of his life, he was often remembered as much for his alleged mafia ties and stormy love life as for his films and recordings. But when the Rat Pack finally fades from our collective memory, there will always be the songs. My Way is a warm, affectionate and tuneful reminder of those brilliant melodies that remain Sinatra’s greatest legacy.”

“No matter the era in which you grew up it would be difficult not to find some connection to the romantic music presented… So allow yourself to be seduced… Don’t miss My Way and take someone you love along…the songs themselves are the stars; the performers mere vessels through which they shine…. Witty and sophisticated, these great songs are as much apart of the American Zeitgeist as Sinatra himself.”

My Way captures wit, charm of Ol’ Blue Eyes. “A dash of humor, a pinch of tap dancing and a touch of elegance can go a long way, especially when mixed with a musical smorgasbord of the best of Frank Sinatra. My Way, features a charming cast and elegant musicianship. It is more than enough to get heads nodding to the familiar beats and young toes tapping.

My Way was is a breath of fresh air, a romantic enticement, and a blast from the past. It’s a splendid evening!

It’s rare for a revue honoring popular music to pack in this much material and not come across as overbaked or stale (see Smokey Joe’s Cafe and Leader of the Pack). But David Grapes and Todd Olson have created a piece that’s at once elegant and playful.

The singers combine a wealth of talent with an even greater bounty of wonderful material to create a show that is over far too soon. If the cast does not sing your particular favorite Sinatra melody, you’ll soon forget the omission and make one of the other dozens of classics offered your favorite. There is so much great music served up, you’ll find yourself humming along; in fact, at times it’s hard not to sing along.

A drop-dead, too-good-too miss musical revue. This is truly a proper and fitting musical tribute to the great Frank Sinatra.

Even those who aren’t particularly Sinatra fans will enjoy an evening in Frank’s world.

I knew it would be good. It had to be with such a talented cast, great direction, a extremely talented technical staff, and, of course, the music of the Chairman of the Board. But what happened opening night was far more than good. It was magic, pure magic!

The packed house went wild, igniting a standing ovation even before the final song had ended. My Way is theatre at its best,

Character Descriptions

Man #1 is aged 40-60 and should have a dark Italian look (the “rat pack” years).  Man #1 must have a deep/rich strong velvety baritone voice in the Sinatra mode. He sings many of the Sinatra standards, so he needs to have an incredible vocal instrument and have a feel for Sinatra’s unusual phrasing and distinctive vocal style. He should dance or at the very least move extremely well. Tap dance skills are a big plus as there are a number of optional tap/dance breaks written for this character. Man #1 should also be able to sing close harmony. Ideally, this actor projects the style and easy sophistication that was the Sinatra trademark WITHOUT DOING ANY SORT OF PHYSICAL OR VOCAL IMITATION of the man. He is the leader of the ensemble in terms of setting the tone and style that the show’s music demands. Finally, he must relate well to the audience and possess the charisma to bring them along on this two hour musical journey into the world of “cool.”  This is the “key” casting decision and will be the most difficult performer to locate and cast.

 Man #2 25-40 Is the skinny 1940’s big band “crooner” look. This actor should have all American boy good looks and be a physical contrast to the actor playing Man #1. He should have a strong legit lyric baritone voice and be an excellent part singer. He sings up to a G. Listen to the Sinatra recordings with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra to understand the smooth easy vocal style that is required for this role. Man #2 should also have a natural and unaffected flair for comedy as he carries much of the show’s humor and lighter moments. He spends much of the show trying to learn how to be “cool.” He is matched with Woman #2 and they need to look great as a pair.  Moves well.

 Woman #1 30-50 should have dark, sensual, exotic, and striking good looks. In some ways, her character represents the female version of Frank (“rat pack” period). She is a “classy dame” who drips with style, sophistication, and class. Woman #1 has the more difficult singing role of the two women. Vocally she is a strong mezzo soprano who can also belt. Her vocal style is based on great “torch singers” like Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, and Judy Garland. In other words, she performs with “balls.” This actress sings through a wide range vocally and must also be a capable part singer. A dark, smoky, husky sound is preferred. This actress must look good and match up well physically with Man #1.  One of the two women should be a strong dancer and the other move well.

 Woman #2 20-35 should be a leggy blonde or redhead with drop dead looks and a smile that lights up the room. She should be able to project an energetic and youthful sexuality to the audience. Woman #2 is the type of woman that always attracted Frank (aka Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Mia Farrow, etc). Vocally this character needs to have that same smooth liquid big band singer sound of the 40’s that Man #2 should also possess. Woman #2 is also a mezzo but does sing some soprano parts. Her voice should be lighter and provide a contrast to the darker sound required for Woman #1. She too needs to be a capable part singer.  For this role a strong dancer with tap skills would be a big plus. In the original production, Man #1 and Woman #2 were both outstanding tap dancers.  Woman #2 matches up physically with Man #2 and the two of them should make a handsome couple.

 * Note:  Christmas My Way, the sequel to MY WAY was originally intended to be done by the same cast as My Way:  A Tribute to Frank Sinatra.

Creator’s Notes

The Setting:

The setting should be “Sinatra-esque.” In the Nashville premiere (1000 seats), it was designed to look very much like a sophisticated night-club. The touring set drawings for an upcoming mini-tour to regional theatres looks very Copacabana. The Asolo production (175 seats) had a very cabaret look. I imagine some future productions might even have a very Las Vegas-ssy look. And of course, Sinatra always thought of himself as “a saloon singer.” So, as for literal setting, the set for My Way can and should be inspired by those things. Places in which Sinatra would have thrived and felt at home are the best choice. That said, “classy” has been a word tossed around a lot in the production reviews thus far. Even though it might be a cabaret, it needs to have a finished, glossy quality to it. An elegance. A dressed up feel. A few of the first productions used Sinatra’s signature as an upstage background. I think that the most important question to ask is this, “would Sinatra have done a gig here at any time in his life?” If the answer is yes, then it is the right choice.  Also the trio should be on stage dressed in tuxes and in full view of the audience. There needs to be space for the singers to work at the piano and enough room to dance as couples. There is also dialogue between Man #1 and the pianist at the top of Act II.

 Stage Properties:

A black or white baby grand piano
One functional retro (Sony) 50’s microphone on a stand center stage with long cord
A fully stocked martini bar
2-4 sets of cabaret tables and chairs
Three bar stools
A tip jar on the piano
Various tall green plants and foliage
A beautiful painted full moon that is flown in or hung during the moon medley 

Sound:

Sound is THE MOST IMPORTANT TECHNICAL ELEMENT of My Way. Sound reinforcement mattered to Sinatra and it will matter to your audiences. The cast sings 56 vocal selections and it is vital that we hear the words and phrasing clearly without having to strain our ears. Sinatra was a true master in the art of using a microphone in performance. Therefore, like Forever Plaid, My Way is intended to be performed using microphones as sound reinforcement. When possible wireless body mics should be used on each performer rather than using stand microphones. In addition to these microphones there should be one working “retro” Sony 50’s style microphone center stage that can have reverb and other “big band” effects placed on it. Depending on the size of your theatre, you may also want to reinforce the piano or stand-up bass. The show could also be performed using some variation of hand-held microphones but I would make that a last option. My recommendation is to start sound rehearsals as soon as possible and locate the best sound engineer you can find to mix the show during each performance.

Pianist/Musical Director: This is perhaps the most important casting decision to be made for the production. This person controls almost everything about the production (tempo, style, energy, etc.). The perfect player would be an EXCELLENT sight reader, who not only has played musical theatre productions, but is in their soul also a jazz player. Much of the music is orchestrated in Sinatra’s favorite musical style, swing jazz.  The score, while fully written out, is designed so that an accomplished musician can add his/her artistry to the performance. You need an outstanding player who is capable of managing the multitude of tempo, key and style changes that are written into the show’s medleys. On the other hand, a certain highly advanced skill level at improvisation is also extremely helpful. The original pianist/arranger/musical director, Vince di Mura, did not play the show the same way twice in over 50 performances and yet he never failed to support the singers or the dramatic action on stage. In many ways, this person becomes a fifth character in the production so look for a great musician who also has an interesting stage personality. This musician embodies the easy going Sinatra “cool,” He/she must be capable of assisting the cast members in finding this rather crucial albeit elusive quality in their performances. In all of our initial productions, this musician also served as Musical Director and conducted the stand up bass player and drummer from the piano during performance.

 Transitions:

The musical score is constructed in a way that the music almost never stops. It was our intention that dialogue is given underneath solo piano in many of the “banter sections.” It is important the performance appears seamless to the audience. We also constructed the arrangements to delay any audience applause until certain key moments.

 Dance:

The show contains a number of optional dance breaks. We were fortunate in the workshop production of My Way to have two Broadway caliber dancers in the cast. Dance is a wonderful element and adds much to the production, if you have the talent to pull it off. Remember that Sinatra himself was a very good dancer. Watch the film version of ON THE TOWN and look at those great musical numbers with Gene Kelly if you don’t believe me. The important thing is that the choreography be stylish and not call attention to itself. You’ll find when you look at the score little tributes to Astaire, Kelly, and others. The choreography should not look like traditional musical theatre choreography but rather social dancing that is motivated by the music and the location. It should posses class and style and look completely effortless. Never be afraid to let people stand still in a spotlight and “sell the song.” After all, these are some of the greatest tunes of the Twentieth century.

 Character, theme, and style:

Each of the four characters is unique. Each actor represents a different yet distinctive aspect of the Sinatra mystique. Yet, the actors are also playing themselves. It is important that they feel comfortable enough to bring their own experiences to their role.  If you’ll look closely at how the songs are arranged, you’ll begin to find that each medley contains several scenarios such as “boy meets girl, boy loses girl” etc. In fact, the topic of love, seduction, and romance occupies most of Sinatra’s 1360 recordings. Therefore, My Way is largely about the subject of romance and relationships. What it meant to Sinatra and what it means to each of us. A secondary theme that runs through the script is how do you teach someone to be “cool?” You’ll notice that Man #1 and Woman #1 have many lessons to teach the younger couple on both of these topics. You will also notice that we use direct address to involve the audience.  One of the potential traps for a director is to let the musical become too “presentational” and too “audience centered.” You need to maintain the audience connection without sacrificing the “epic feel” of the piece. Remember it is a musical tribute and celebration of Sinatra and not a cabaret performance in which each singer interprets the song in his or her own personal way. We are paying tribute to Sinatra and the reasons he recorded these great tunes in the first place. Direct and shape all the performances through a “Sinatra musical filter.”   Keep it light, fast and fresh. The actors should be having just as much fun as the audience.

 Vocals:

Whatever you do, do not let anyone do an imitation of Sinatra!!! That is a sure fire ticket to disaster. What is important is to have everyone connected to the production listen to as many of Sinatra’s recordings as you can get your hands on. Then get the performers to “channel” what they feel and hear from those recordings. Try to use Sinatra’s phrasing and musical sense whenever possible without imitating his idiosyncratic vocal mannerisms. You are after the essence, style, and cool of the way Sinatra interpreted a great song, not an exact duplication of his performance. The one thing I do recommend you attempt to duplicate is Sinatra’s enunciation. Nobody is better at hitting final consonants than “Old Blue Eyes.” The music is always your guide and the arrangements your anchor. Cast great singers and then have them perform these songs with style and grace.

 Script:

Do not allow actors to ad-lib lines to the audience or add extra Sinatra bits.

 Additional Music:

It is recommended that you do not use any recorded music (Sinatra or other) during pre show or intermission.

 Costumes:

Women
Elegant sophisticated evening cocktail attire (Shorter dresses Act, I longer Act II. Must be able to move)

Men
White dinner jackets Act I
Black tux jackets Act II

 Lighting:

The design should be romantic, sensual and moody. The production lends itself easily to the use of dramatic specials, gobos and break-up patterns. I prefer a white cyc in the background, which can be changed to various saturated colors. Two follow spots are recommended. You will be in need of some sort of lighting support for the moon medley and the summer medley. The best productions thus far have incorporated stunning moons and awesome sunsets. All lighting should be more theatrical than realistic and evoke mood rather than place.

 Marketing:

Nothing sells a show like recognizable song titles. In your advertising, you may use any song title contained in the show. You may also use the words “A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” when using the My Way title. Remember, you do not have authorization or permission to use Sinatra’s picture or likeness to advertise the production. Images contained in a set design are most likely not a problem.  All it took in Sarasota to sell out 35 performances were the song titles and some radio buys on the area jazz stations.

 The best is yet to come – David Grapes and Todd Olson 2021

Creator’s Bios

David Grapes II

David Grapes II

Creator

David is an Emeritus Professor of Theatre at the University of Northern Colorado, where he served as the Founding Director of the School of Theatre Arts and Dance and Producing Artistic Director for The Little Theatre of the Rockies for 15 years. An award-winning director, actor, drama critic and playwright, David has provided administrative and artistic leadership for a wide variety of theatrical institutions including two professional regional (LORT) theatre companies. An active member of SDC and AEA his work as a stage director (250+ productions) and actor has been seen at major regional theatres across the United States. As a DGA member, David is the creator or co-creator of eight original musical revues, six plays and numerous adaptations (www.summerwindproductions.com), which have enjoyed over 500 productions worldwide. David holds a BA from Glenville State College and an MFA in Acting/Directing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Todd Olson

Todd Olson

Creator

Todd is the Supervisor of the Historic Palace Theatre in Crossville, TN. Before that he was Artistic Director at American Stage Theatre in St. Petersburg, FL. Todd has directed over 150 plays, musicals, and operas, including My Way (which he co-created) at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, and I Left My Heart (also co-created) at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Original works include Lysistrata, Casa Blue, the last moments in the life of Frida Kahlo, and Joe Corso Re-Enters from the Wings, which won the 2012 Holland New Voices Playwright Award at the Great Plains Theatre Conference. His new musical Section 60, the New Ghosts in Arlington enjoyed a reading at the Florida New Musical Festival, and his most recent ALTHEA & ANGELA will receive a reading at WordPlayers in Knoxville in the Spring. Todd received his M.F.A. from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and is a graduate from the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard. 

Vince di Mura

Vince di Mura

Arranger

Vince is a composer, arranger, jazz pianist and musical director; appearing on concert stages and theatres throughout North America, Canada, Europe and Latin America. He is currently the Resident Musical Director and Composer for the Lewis Center of the Arts at Princeton University, where he has served since 1987. He has conducted theatre seasons and fulfilled numerous compositional commissions at theatre across the U.S. His arrangements for Summerwind Productions include “My Way,” “Christmas My Way,” “Simply Simone” and “I Left My Heart.”  Mr. di Mura is also the author and curator of “A Conversation with the Blues:” A 14 part web instructional series on improvisation through the Blues, Produced by Soundfly Inc. Vince has 6 CDs on the market including his most recent release, “Meditations on the Sacred Heart.”  All of which are available at CDBaby.com and any number of internet outlets. 

Credits

PROGRAM CREDITS FOR TITLE PAGE

Conceived and Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson                                   Original Book by Todd Olson

Original production directed by David Grapes                                                     Arrangements by Vince di Mura

First Workshop Production                                                                                     Artpark at the Church, Lewiston, NY  May,1999

World Premiere at Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville, TN – July,2000

Special Thanks

Barbara Redinger Davis, Dr. K. Dawn Grapes, Brant Pope and the FSU/Asolo Theatre Conservatory, John Fredo, Lynne Kurdzeil-Formato, Michael Hake, Christine C. Cooper

My Way – Videos

Contact Us

Summerwind Productions, LLC – Box 430, Windsor, CO 80528          Email: Summerwindprod@hotmail.com