If you ask me…
- Tom Holehan
"MY WAY" SINATRA TRIBUTE IN WESTPORT
The musical revue format – of which the intimate Music Theatre of Connecticut has made a specialty – gets a new entry with “My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra”. The 45-seat Westport theatre is enjoying full houses and enthusiastic patrons for this nostalgic but ultimately colorless journey through some of Old Blue Eyes’ most famous music.
Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson with book by Mr. Olson, “My Way” has a thrilling collection of Sinatra’s songs on tap: “Chicago”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “My Funny Valentine”, “The Lady is a Tramp” and dozens more are included. Mr. Olson’s book consists mostly of anecdotes – some amusing, some familiar – about the Chairman of the Board and his legendary Vegas ways.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a project like “My Way”, but in order for the format to really soar you need compelling personalities at the core. This was clearly in evidence with MTC’s recent Ethel Merman tribute where singer Klea Blackhurst completely commanded the stage. In the current “My Way”, an attractive quartet of singers in handsome attire sing harmoniously together, but there is no urgent reason to watch. They make for a tuneful, pleasant foursome who would probably work just as well on radio.
“My Way” is not without its moments, however. Late in the program Robert J.Townsend delivers a fairly strong rendition of “That’s Life” and he also duets nicely with Jodi Stevens on “Something Stupid”. Johnny Orenberg offers some amusing faces but his voice often lacks power, making it difficult to hear him. Jillian Schochet sings with passion but, like the others, is strongest when in quartet mode.
Despite the limitations of space, director Kevin Connors has smoothly staged the action using just a few stools and chairs. Assisted by Marty Bongfelt, the choreography is modest but serviceable. The “My Way” band is quite accomplished with Max Haymer (piano), Henry Lugo (bass) and Chris Johnson (drums) worthy of praise.
“My Way” continues at the Music Theatre of Connecticut through April 17 (extra evening show at 7 pm has just been added). For tickets call: 203.454.3883 or visit: www.musictheatreofct.com.
Tom Holehan is Co-chairman of the Connecticut Critics Circle and Artistic Director of Stratford’s Square One Theatre Company. He welcomes comments at: email@example.com. His reviews and other theatre information can be found on the Connecticut Critics Circle website: www.ctcritics.org.