Sinatra – The Man And His Music
20 July 2015
Sinatra – The Man And His Music at the London Palladium is not your normal West End musical. It is a very different beast indeed. Perhaps best described as a multi-media spectacular, it takes footage of Sinatra’s performances over his entire career, applies a live orchestra and adds twenty dancers to the mix to create something rather special.
Director David Gilmour and his talented creative team have fashioned something that is part tribute, part musical performance, but ultimately extremely respectful to the man his enormous musical legacy.
As an artist, Sinatra remains one of the best-selling recording artists of all time with record sales in excess of 150 million copies worldwide. He performed on more than 1400 recordings and was awarded 31 gold, nine platinum, three double-platinum and one triple-platinum album as well as acting in more than 60 movies.
The show takes some of the crooner’s classics and with the help of some of the slickest technology available gives the audience a post-humous concert experience that is second to none.
Taking the biographical route, audiences are taken on a brief Sinatra timeline from his birth to latter years. Bette Midler spoke to audiences in her recent tour about songs growing with a singer over their career, and there’s no doubt that many of the classic songs made famous by Sinatra could have been written about his life experiences. With songwriters and lyricists like Cole Porter, Irving Kahal, Sammy Fain, Duke Ellington, Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II amongst others, Frank Sinatra was blessed with the gold standard when it came to material. The set list constructed for Sinatra the show, unleashed hit after hit on the audience. Fly Me To The Moon, Pennies From Heaven, I’ll Be Seeing You, I Got You Under My Skin, I Get A Kick Out Of You, The Lady Is A Tramp, My Funny Valentine, and New York New York are all represented, sounding fresh and as vibrant as ever.
Watching the life footage of Sinatra performing, you get the impression particularly in some of the earlier black and white sequences performed direct to camera was the feeling that the great man had only just recorded these sequences with this concert in mind and was directing his performance to the combined Palladium audience.
Added to the performances of the man himself are the talents of a stunning orchestra under the direction of Conductor Richard John. With orchestrations and arrangements by Gareth Valentine, Don Sebesky, David Pierce and Colin Skinner, the Palladium was filled with the sound of some of the greatest modern standards of the last century in all their glory, played with impeccable musicianship.
The final component in Sinatra on stage are the twenty young dancers that work hard, dancing for almost the entire performance, perhaps no more effectively than in the Tommy Dorsey section of the first act. Alistair Postlethwaite, Amy Hollins, Anabel Kutay , Ashley Nottingham, Aston Newman Hannington, Bryony Laura Whitfield, Charis O’Connor, Faye Best, Francis Haugen, Gemma Whitelam, James Revell, Jamie Firth, Liam Paul Jennings, Lucy Banfield, Matt Holland, Niall Swords, Nicola Coates, Rachel Ensor, Christopher Black, and Aaron James. These great dancers drawn from across the UK with choreography by GJD Choreography melded the dance seamlessly with the video sections of the production. The only moment that had me scratching my head involved the presentation of New York, New York which might have been more at home during the Vegas sequences.
The video component of the proceedings designed by 59 Productions makes most of Sinatra’s old video footage, and family and career photographs come to life. It’s an extraordinary achievement that helps the show land credible emotional impact throughout.
You can’t help but think this production would be perfectly suited for one of the Las Vegas showrooms. With so much of his career linked to Vegas, this production would be a smash hit there.
I was lucky enough to see Frank Sinatra live when he toured Australia with The Main Event that saw him perform alongside Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jnr. It was an experience that I will never forget as these masters entertained audiences of all ages. Siting in the audience at the Palladium tonight I was certainly impressed by the technological side of this production but by the infinite respect accorded to Sinatra the artist and the standards that he held as a performer during his lifetime.
During the curtain call at tonight’s press night, Nancy Sinatra talked about her father’s motto of having to “make an effort”, there is no doubt that a tremendous effort was applied to bring this production of Sinatra to the stage.
Start spreading the news, Sinatra’s back!