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Village Music & Drama

Village Show Review

Posted on January 16 2009 at 3:34:56 0 comments

The Rat Pack

Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular
Artrix, Bromsgrove

As I entered the Artrix foyer, I prepared to suspend all belief as the height of ‘cool’ played Bromsgrove for one night only. A cold Sunday night at that!

Appropriately, with drinks in hand, a fairly good audience moved into the theatre to be greeted by the big band sound of eight musicians – piano, double bass, drums and a five-piece brass section.

In the Mood was belted out and laid the foundations for the whole concert. You could tell from the outset that we were in for a real treat on the music front alone. Hats off to all eight; they were brilliant.

That said, although this was an important part of the evening’s event, it was Frank, Dean and Sammy who would determine how well the concert was received. At this point I should declare my family’s small but not insignificant claim to fame: while working at The Royal Festival Hall in London during the 70s, my father had the opportunity to meet and shake the hand of Mr Francis Albert Sinatra during one of his concerts. So I feel more than qualified to offer a review of this show!

Anyway, I digress. There is a certain timeless quality to these standards that the lads made popular in their heyday and continues to capture the imagination of many today. The reality TV, X-Factor type shows often feature these classics, sung by a generation who were not even around when they were first recorded. Well, can you see Don’t Cha being whistled in 20 years’ time?

First up was Wayne Kennedy as Dean Martin and, to maintain character, he appeared throughout with a glass in hand! Wayne is pretty much responsible for putting the show together more than five years ago.

Two songs later, Mr Sammy Davis Jr bounced onto the stage with three solo songs. Patrick Kumah, who joined the trio in early 2006, gave us a lively That Old Black Magic and a good account of Sammy’s signature number, Mr Bojangles.

The time was now right to welcome ‘The Chairman of the Board’ and leader of the pack himself. With an almost perfect rendering of Come Fly With Me, Fred Gardner had arrived with his alter ego! Here was the star of the show without question. The test is to close your eyes and let your ears do the listening.

Probably it’s just me, but I’ve always thought Sinatra was a little condescending, a touch arrogant and maybe a smidgen too aggressive to his co-stars. Fred reflected this and the mannerisms wonderfully. I was even more impressed when chatting to him after the show and realised quite how much acting went on.

Apart from the expected banter between the boys, they also engaged the audience with comments on our beloved home town and neighbouring Redditch, none of which were that complimentary, but distinctly good-humoured. We all helped out with Volare and a positive highlight in the second half was when an audience member was thrust into the limelight and invited to join Frank singing Something Stupid.

Initially, I was slightly suspicious as she gave an excellent account of herself, singing in tune and without any apparent nerves. Step forward and take a bow, Emma Tierney of Redditch, who later confided in me that she only sings in the shower!

27 songs later we arrived at the encore, New York, New York, for which we all stood. It was not by default that we gave the whole troupe a standing ovation! Wonderful. Congratulations to Artrix for the sound, lights and support.

Review by Keith Woolford

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