“MY WAY” AT MTC
By Marlene S. Gaylinn
“My Way” at Westport’s Music Theatre of Connecticut is a review conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson featuring the songs Frank Sinatra sang. Although the title may be a little misleading, the program notes explain that this presentation is meant to be a “tribute” not a true impersonation of Sinatra. What is captured here by four singers are the musical memories of a bygone era plus, under the direction of Kevin Connors, a little of “Sinatra’s casual style. Pleasantly accompanying the group are Musical Director, Max Haymer (piano), Henry Lugo (bass) and Chris Johnson (drums).
The setting is a nightclub in the late 1950’s however, some of the songs like “Makin’ Whoopee,” date back much earlier and seem out of place during this time period. Still and all, “Fly Me to The Moon” and “Moonlight Serenade,” during Sinatra’s so-called “Moon Phase,” are very relaxing to hear. And of course, “All the Way,” and “I Did in My Way,” are among the numerous, more meaningful classics one never tires of.
Singers Jullian Schochet and Jodi Stevens project strong voices and fine, musical sensitivities. They also look lovely in sparkling evening gowns. Robert Townsend is certainly not Frank Sinatra but he succeeds in doing it “his way” -- by offering his own, stylized renditions. Johnny Orenberg appears to be the youngest of the group. His voice is weaker but he makes up for these differences with his energetic body language.
This writer recalls a skinny Sinatra with large ears. He was such a funny-looking weakling -- one would never expect him to become so popular. Several generations have grown up during Sinatra’s long career. Projecting slides of swooning teenagers, and lonely soldiers writing letters home (while offering Sinatra’s sentimental, war songs) etc. would have enhanced this production -- especially for younger folks. Speaking of generations, an older man in the front row was thoroughly enjoying himself by gleefully waving his hands in time to the music. To their credit, the performers took advantage of this precious moment by interacting with him, as if he was a relative – maybe he was.
A sentimental era may be gone, but you can relive some of these moments at MTC.
This review appears in “On Connecticut Theatre” April/2011