The Rat Pack

Friday, 20 August, 2010

Swing time with Sinatra style

Edinburgh 2010 – C+2 Venue – 4th – 30th August ( 21.05 )

Scott Free is an amazing Frank Sinatra, leading the Hartshorn – Hook Company in a wonderful evocation of a Rat Pack evening. It is set in that timeless film and television world when Sammy Davis Junior, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were all in their prime, which seemed to last forever. Tony Bennet still creates it today, that ease of manners and singing of great songs which expresses longings and states of the heart shared by all.  The atmosphere in the C Venue is gently created by genuinely delightful performances from the central characters, set in the glamour of a night club full of wonderful big band music and beautiful talented artists. The set is simply dressed and well lit. Entrances and exits are handled skilfully and the rapport between the performers is gloriously relaxed, full of charm and harmony. Graham Bates plays Dean with good humour, is prettily  handsome and has a splendid singing voice. He rollicks around the stage playing Dean Martin in his drinking days, charming the ladies and downing the drinks with elegance. Nile Bailey also has a beautiful voice. He plays Sammy Davis Junior with creative sensitivity and high jinx which bring Sammy to life in a quite gifted manner, holding the audience with his intensity and grace.

Alicia Herhenteris, Clarissa Land and Ellen Tibke play the Berelli Sisters who are both Backing Singers and an Independently lovely singing and dancing trio, supplying the feminine glamour and the gorgeous harmonies which give the arrangements period depth and quality. They play with their femininity in true Hollywood style, are fabulous dancers, humorous actresses and excellent singers, without whom The Rat Pack would shine less brightly. As it is they give it diamond twinkle with their elegance and musicality. They help create excitement in the big numbers and become fabulous set dressing when the male stars take the stage. They handle the audience interactions beautifully, encouraging and controlling the stage invasions with skill and their set pieces are timed to perfection. Busby Berkley would have loved these girls.

The Big Band of young musicians is a joy to the ears. Andrew Cowburn on piano is worth his weight in gold and musical director Sarah Holmes is one of the best drummers it has ever been my pleasure to hear. Between them they keep the youthful band in brilliant time and tune, creating a wonderful wall of sound which modulates through many wide harmonies and creates an inspired platform upon which the amazing Scott Free brings Frank Sinatra to life before one’s very eyes, Through the brass Deano charmingly croons and Sammy pulls the heartstrings divinely. Every number is well played, all tempos kept and all sliding harmonies held. The acting from everyone on the stage creates a strong fabric upon which to craft an era.

Scott Free does not just sound like Frank Sinatra, he has his movements, his timing and his urbane stage personality down to a tee. He is in total command of his performance and of the stage, even when full of audience members whooping it up as the Big Band raises the roof. Through it all he never fails to hit the right note, signal to the orchestra, keep everyone in the audience hooked and generally behave as if Being Frank Sinatra is easy. He is a very, very talented performer, actor, singer who could easily convince those who loved Frank Sinatra that “ Old Blue Eyes is Back”! He does this because he has the core of a truly great performer, an excellent sense of timing and a genuinely wonderful way with a song. If he were not playing Frank Sinatra he would still have all these gifts. Playing Frank Sinatra he uses his many talents to encourage all the others on the stage, as well as allowing those in both cast and audience who were too young to know Frank Sinatra an opportunity to hear these great songs sung by a performer truly worthy of his role.

This ensemble is well rehearsed, the numbers are arranged by some-one who truly knows how to shape and subtly shade the music for theatrical effect and the whole experience is one of being lifted, spirited through time and returned to one’s seat full of smiles. It’s like being washed in champagne bubbles and left slightly high. Well done everyone involved. Thanks for the memories. Thanks for your willingness to SHINE.

Cast: Sammy Nile Bailey , Dean – Graham Bates, Frank – Scott Free, Berelli sister – Alicia Herhenteris, Berelli Sister – Clarissa Land, Berelli Sister – Ellen Tibke

Band (alpha order ) Trombone 2 – James Ball, Baritone Sax – Andrew Carvel, Trombone 1 – John Connolly, Piano – Andrew Cowburn, Guitar – Dan Crichton, Tenor Sax – Fiona Garvie, Drums – Sarah Holmes, Trumpet 2 – Oliver Roditi, Alto Sax – Oliver Tidman, Bass – Michael Turkington , Trumpet 1 – David Wesley

Company- Hartshorn – Hook Productions- Creative Team, Producer – Louis Hartshorn, Producer – Brian Hook , Musical Director – Sarah Holmes, Artistic Director – Anthony Springall,, Lighting designer -James Gow Stage Manager – Emily Walker, Sound Technician – Ryan Buchanan, General Manager – Chris Ackerley

web: www.hartshornhook.com

( c )Lilian Kennedy Brzoska 2010

reviewed Saturday 14th August 10

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