Falling somewhere between a tribute act and a musical revue, The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas, brings together the kings of cool, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davies Jr, as they play a fictional night of variety on the stage of the Sands Hotel. Renowned for their old boy’s club style of camaraderie and songs that defined a generation, the three leads rattle their way through their classics, including You Make Me Feel So Young, That’s Amore, Mack The Knife and My Way.
With a sparse set and little changing visually throughout the show, there is a reliance on the songs and performances to carry the production. The aces in the pack here are Stephen Triffitt with an intonation and vocal style which is undeniably Sinatra and Nicola Emmanuel with a naturally soulful, jazz infused voice as Ella Fitzgerald. But the show’s greatest strengths lies is in its musical numbers, and whilst the classic status of the songs is undeniable, the real joy was to hear them accompanied by a live orchestra creating a sound which reverberated in your chest, and with not a synthesizer or drum machine in sight.
Despite its musical prowess, the show stumbles with an over indulgence of on stage banter which grows old and tiresome towards the end, whilst the portrayal of Dean Martin’s alcohol use descended from witty observation into comedic parody; but it was the racist, misogynistic and homophobic jokes which sat the most uncomfortably, and whilst they may have been reflective of the time, there doesn’t feel any reason why they should have been included for a modern audience.
But there is still plenty of pleasure to be found here, with a barrage of songs, toe-tapping beats and singalong classics coming together to form a fairly undemanding evening of entertainment.
The Rat Pack – Live From Las Vegas is currently at Sheffield Theatres until 5th May 2018 before continuing on its national tour.
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.