Si­na­tra trib­ute is pleas­ant but lacks his charisma

Lit­tle for au­di­ence to latch onto in re­vue’s sparse stage ac­tion.

Palm Beach Daily News - - TODAY - By JAN SJOSTROM

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.

Photo by Tom Tracy

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.

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