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THEATRE REVIEW: The Rat Pack at the Liverpool Empire

It's viva Las Vegas as Ian Moore appreciates the slick tribute to Martin, Sinatra and Davis Jr

Published on May 6th 2010.


THEATRE REVIEW: The Rat Pack at the Liverpool Empire

DEAN Martin once famously said, "....the satisfaction that I get out of working with these two bums [Sinatra and Davis Jnr] is that we have more laughs than the audience." Well, there are laughs aplenty in The Rat Pack: Live from Las Vegas as there's a good deal of audience interplay in a recreation of the trio’s infamous Sands Hotel extravaganzas.

In terms of sheer sophistication, nothing quite compares to the big band sound, three great singer/impersonators and a trio of sophisticated beautiful backing singer / dancers. The camaraderie between all was evident and they clearly enjoyed every minute of the show as much as the audience.

The year is 1962, when Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin joined forces in Las Vegas , however, in this re-staging, director Mitch Sebastian has allowed some later entries into the running order - New York , New York and My Way were both released after the famous event - but their inclusion is not to the detriment of the show.All the greats make the cut: The Lady Is A Tramp, That’s Life, Mr Bojangles, That’s Amore to name but a few and, as Sinatra, Tam Ward does an nice job. Nigel Casey is equally accomplished as Dean Martin often singing whilst juggling a cigarette, a whisky glass and a long, trailing microphone cable.

Playing Sammy Davis Jr, Jason Pennycooke has the hardest job, as notable as the other two are, it’s Davis that is the least imitated and yet the most inimitable. But no problem, Pennycooke steals the show portraying Davis as the butt of his co-stars' jokes, accepting their cruel asides and their attempts to make him corpse, as well as squeezing in a couple of tap routines, the aptly named ‘Mister Tippy Tappy’ shines.

This is not a rose-tinted view of the trio, and the show is to be applauded for its accuracy in that it doesn't shy away from displaying what passed for humour at the time, anti-Semitism, Ku Klux Klan references and the Sinatra/Davis Jr duo of Me and My Shadow, a blatant racial reference.

Yet the three had great respect for each other. The Rat Pack was largely responsible for the racial integration of Las Vegas. Sinatra and Martin refused to appear anywhere that barred Davis, forcing the casinos to open their doors to African-American entertainers and patrons.

In this show, tThere are a handful of nods to organised crime, as well as Martin’s alleged alcohol addiction.

If you have moral objections to what is essentially a twentieth century phenomenon - The Tribute Show - then The Rat Pack is not for you. It does nothing more and nothing less than to recreate. It is firmly entrenched in a 1960s style

However, it does pose the question that maybe there is a theatre show waiting to be born into what actually did happen.

This is not that show, this show is simply the music and the jocular ad-libbed repartee that endeared the three friends to their audience back then.

In terms of sheer sophistication, nothing quite compares to the big band sound, three great singer/impersonators and a trio of sophisticated beautiful backing singer / dancers. The camaraderie between all was evident and they clearly enjoyed every minute of the show as much as the audience.

Of course we know that Samuel George Davis Jnr, Dino Paul Crocetti and Francis Albert Sinatra all left us for that big band in the sky ('90, ’95 and ’98 respectively), but, for those not sitting too close to the stage, there they were onstage, presenting some of the best tunes of the century, live.

Rating 7/10

*The Rat Pack: Live from Las Vegas is at the Liverpool Empire until Saturday 8 May.

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Peter Coyle

i wish i had been there…it sounds like something joyous and anarchic...the way the article is…

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Anonymous

Couldn't agree more. This is a super piece. Ken would be proud that not a penny of public money was…

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Reader Xxx

The review was indeed brilliant - congratulations Angie. The show must have been very special -…

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Claudia Boulton

Thanks Angie for your brilliant piece, so glad you wrote it! Now i know what was going on! Being in…

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