Few people define the American experience like that of The Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra. His songs, his voice, his style have captivated generations of Americans and he still can. If he were still alive today he would still pack them in and the paparazzi would gather. Sadly, this can no longer be, but thanks to places like The Theater Factory, located in Trafford, PA, we get the chance to peer into the past and see what it might have been like in the glory days of the Rat Pack.
This little theater, in its 20th season, has wisely put together a powerful show as a tribute to Frank Sinatra. This ambitious musical combines 56 of Frank’s greatest and most memorable songs. They are combined with acting, laughter and a bit of glitz and glamour that harkens back to the glory days of Vegas with Smoke filled clubs, elegant women, and men with guts. Yes, My Way, A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, has become one of the most produced musicals in America. All across the country this well constructed, nostalgic journey fills playhouses everywhere. It has become a smash hit in venue after venue, and The Theater Factory, and its troupe of actors and supporting crew deserve the sound of applause.
The theater does not boast a vast number of seats, hence, each seat comes complete with the perfect, comfortable view of the stage and the players. The setting for this musical had perfected the illusion that you had stepped back in time and entered a night club in Old New York. The details were just right. The small size aided in the ability to hear quite easily every word and song of the actors, and the accompanying instruments blended well with the acoustics to provide a nice experience for the audience to enjoy the iconic songs of this magical crooner.
Breanna Deutsch played Woman #1. She held a key role where her beauty, dancing abilities and acting helped pull the audience into the show, but her most important effort had been her singing. Her voice could carry incredible highs and enjoyable lows. She breathed life into Old Blue Eyes’ magical songs. She delighted the audience with her effort.
Alicia Dipaolo played Woman #2 and worked well with Breanna as she offset Breanna’s powerful vocals with a much more demure voice that soothed the audience, calming us. She did bring many laughs as well as she moved about the stage dancing her way into the hearts of the audience.
Jeremy Kuharcik played Man #1 and seemed to anchor the stage with his presence that no doubt had been born by the depth and breadth of his experience. He did a fine job of carrying the musical forward, dancing, and keeping us grounded with a deep male voice that gave the audience an authentic sensation when he sang the master’s songs. He knew how to set the ambiance that such a musical deserved.
Matt Gault held down the spot of Man #2. Without question his portrayal had been designed to bring the most laughs, and he did quite a fine job. Matt has unique looks that gave you the impression that we had slipped back in time to a period when Sinatra would have been a young man. He just had something extra in his appearance that fit perfect with his role. All of the players gave their very best effort.
The live ensemble added a fantastic sense of realism and as stated previously, the acoustics were just right for this musical effort. They accompanied the actors well, and if they made mistakes none were the wiser. Technically, there did not seem to be a lot of effects. Sure, some lighting and attention to sound, but the musical relied little on technology, and mostly on the voices, and efforts of the actors and musicians.
My Way, without question, sits as an ambitious undertaking and to attempt to match the greatness, or to expect a glimpse at Frank Sinatra would be asking quite a lot of anyone. Frank had been one of a kind and no one will ever replace the Chairman, but if you are looking for a good show, and you really want to get a chance to hear the songs that made him famous then My Way should be something for you to see. So many of the songs the audience knew and so will you, and when they ask you to join in and sing, well, it’s a simple matter as we all know the words. They are iconic. So much of his life has been woven into the fabric of our society. We take for granted the songs he sang and the impact he had. If you get a chance to take in this show you will not be disappointed.
But you know what, “It’s quarter to three, so make it one for my baby and one more for the road”
Special thanks to The Theatre Factory for complimentary press tickets. My Way continues its run through May 10. More information and ticketing can be found here.