Saturday, September 25, 2010

Review: The Rat Pack is Back at The Fred

Last night I went to see the Rat Pack is Back at the Frederick Brown Jr Amphitheater (The Fred) in Peachtree City, GA. The Rat Pack was the name given to the early 60's era singer/actors Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammie Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. The combo wowed the entertainment world and took Las Vegas by storm.

I missed the generation that was treated to the Rat Pack's music while live. I don't think there's a person alive who listens to music or watches TV who isn't familiar with the music though.

The show was fun. They came with a small "orchestra" that was excellent! Peter Lawford was mentioned, along with a few other 'names' from their heyday, but he wasn't in attendance! After reading a bit of the history of the Rat Pack, I can understand why he isn't a part of the show.

I asked some of the people who attended whether the Frank, Dino, Sammie and Joey captured the mannerisms, the tone, the music of the shows... and got a resounding affirmative from all. Some in the audience showed up wearing their Frank Sinatra hats. Most knew the songs well enough to sing them word-for-word. Those I talked with who didn't grow up in that era, and there were more than I expected, said they got a kick out of watching, had fun, enjoyed or expressed similar sentiments.

I got a kick out of the jokes and interplay between all of those on stage. I haven't seen that kind of engagement at any concert I've attended. Sure, the musicians sometimes share tales or tell a joke or two, but it's not the same as having four "huge" stars doing a show together, ad-libbing, engaging the audience, the way the Rat Pack did. How's that for nostalgia for something I've never experienced?

Although all were good singers, the best of the bunch, in my humble estimation, was Nicholas Brooks playing Sammie Davis Jr. Bobby Mayo get's my award for looking the most like his character, Dean Martin. Mickey Joseph as Joey Bishop was a great 'Joey'. He was funny, could sing, and handled the role perfectly. I have to admit, I don't think I've ever seen Joey Bishop on TV, so when I say 'perfectly' it just means I thought he was great whether he captured Bishop correctly or not.

What can I say about Lee Lankhorst as Frank Sinatra? Given an impossible task, he did it well! There are some 'stars' that we know so well that no matter how well you mimic their style, mannerisms or music, it won't be the same. Lankhorst caught the flavor, he has a "Frank" voice and I enjoyed his 'act'.

The Rat Pack is Back re-created an era of Las Vegas style show that I doubt we'll ever see again. It's a great trip down memory lane for those who were a part of the Rat Pack era and an excellent re-enactment for those of us who've only heard about it.

I had a hard time trying to find the names of the guys who played the different characters. I gather they change at times based on watching a few clips I found on their Facebook page, the Internet. It's possible there's a touring group and a Las Vegas group --- when I went to their website it shows them in Las Vegas now, not on tour. With those disclaimers on record: I'm not 100% sure that these are the names of the four I saw last night, but I'm sure someone will set me straight if I'm wrong: 

Frank Sinatra - Les Lankhorst
Dean Martin - Bobby Mayo Jr
Sammie Davis Jr - Nicholas Brooks
Joey Bishop - Mickey Joseph

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