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Rat Pack's evening in Las Vegas is well worth a gamble



Review by Jack Foley

BEFORE Clooney, Pitt and Damon came Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jnr, the original purveyors of cool, dubbed, the 'rat pack', and boy did this crew know how to raise hell.

With suggestions of mob connections, women falling at their feet, and a drink never far away, the rat pack were among the most sought-after of their generation, while people would clamour to see them.

Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr and Dean Martin were, of course, the central trio (along with Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop), having been christened 'the pack' by Lauren Bacall, and it is they who guide viewers through this night of nostalgia, transforming them back to the Sands Hotel, for a song, a drink and a quip or two.

Hence, the snug confines of The Strand's close-knit stalls could easily double for a smoky cocktail table, as Stephen Triffit (Sinatra), Mark Adams (Martin) and George Long (Davis Jr) do their very best to recapture the magic of the 50s and 60s.

The Rat Pack: Live in Las Vegas is as undemanding a night at the theatre as you could ask for, more akin to a concert than a piece of drama, which is great fun, in spite of its obvious weaknesses.

Anyone hoping for much of an insight into the offstage lives of these performers will be sorely disappointed, for this is, first and foremost, a show, which attempts to recapture the energy of the trio's onstage performances.

Hence, we have song after song, broken up only by the camaraderie which exists between the friends, and which serves to provide a welcome diversion from the singing and dancing which dominates.

It is during the exchanges that the vitality of the pack can best be savoured, even if some of the jokes run close to the bone, and feel a little obvious and outdated.

In terms of performance, however, all three of the principles are exemplary, with Triffit carrying off the voice of Old Blue Eyes with effortless ease, as well as his laidback charm and mannerisms.

Long, too, is a perky, fun-filled Davis Jnr, whose tap-dancing segment is a sure-fire crowd-pleaser, while Adams provides most of the comedy, as the drunken Dean Martin.

Indeed, the show is at its most vibrant and memorable whenever he takes to the stage, with his renditions of Volare and That's Amore more likely to get the audience singing along, than anything else, and his drunken tomfoolery, coupled with his insatiable flirting, seldom failing to generate a laugh.

What he lacks in terms of looks (when compared to Martin), he more than makes up for with charisma.

Yet all are excellent in their own way, and for the nostalgic (who departed the theatre vowing to return), their uncanny ability to impersonate their idols is far better than anyone had expected.

Indeed, there are only brief occasions when the evening takes on the feel of a Stars in Their Eyes TV-style tribute, such is the manner in which this trio carry themselves.

Backing them up, of course, is a 15-piece orchestra and an energetic cast of backing singers, complete with stunning (and frequently risqué) costumes, who help to ensure that things remain lively.

But you can't help feeling that, as good as things become, there is also something of a missed opportunity, in terms of exploring the more interesting aspects of the pack's lives.

If it's the music you love, however, then the likes of New York, New York, Mr Bojangles, The Lady Is a Tramp, and, of course, My Way, won't fail to get you excited.

Please note: From June 2005, this show will be moving to The Savoy Theatre.

Buy tickets now!

 

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