Sinatra tribute is pleasant but lacks his charisma
Little for audience to latch onto in revue’s sparse stage action.
There’s a lot to love about Frank Sinatra’s music. Few could sell a song the way he did.
There’s less to love about the MNM Theatre Company’s production of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse.
The main problem is that the show isn’t particularly interesting. Creators David Grapes and Todd Olson make an effort by grouping the songs in themed medleys, such as Broadway tunes, cities, losers and songs featuring the moon.
But far too many arrangements follow a predictable pattern. Typically, songs unfold by passing from singer to singer — and conclude in mellifluous four-part harmony. Between the medleys, the singers deliver snippets of Sinatra trivia.
Perhaps the need for climactic tight-knit harmonies limits what director Dom Ruggiero can do, but there’s not much action on stage to give the audience something to latch onto.
Singers Mark Sanders, Clay Cartland, Hannah Richter and Laura Plyler have tuneful, welltrained voices and likeable stage presences. Cartland and Plyler embody Sinatra’s youth while Sanders and Richter portray his maturity.
But they haven’t been given much leeway in their roles. Too often the women are left to gaze admiringly or flirtatiously at the men while the men strut and flirt back.
That works well for Cartland, who is a good fit for playful tunes such as “Makin’ Whoopee.” Cole Porter’s sly “It’s All Right With Me” gives Plyler a chance to delight with the surprising turn the lyrics take.
But there’s more juice in the sadder, more philosophical tunes.
Richter entrances with a slow, affectionate take on “My Funny Valentine” and a bittersweet “Indian Summer.” Sanders delivers a spirited rendition of “That’s Life.”
The second act is the strongest, probably because medleys about losers, survivors and mature romance have more depth. That’s where you’ll find songs such as “It Was a Very Good Year,” “One for My Baby” and the title tune.
The onstage band, made up of music director Caryl Fantel on piano, bass player Rupert Ziawinski and drummer Roy Fantel, backs the singers with panache and sensitivity.
His way worked well for Sinatra. This revue, though pleasant, falls short of his charisma.
Laura Plyler, from left, Mark Sanders, Hannah Richter and Clay Cartland star in the MNM Theatre Company’s production of “My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” at the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse.