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
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and feel a little obvious and outdated.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
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.