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February 20, 2008 > Theater Review: No kick from My Way

Theater Review: No kick from My Way

By Julie Grabowski

Frank Sinatra said the key to his success was singing good songs. "Strangers in the Night," "Witchcraft," "The Best is Yet to Come," "Fly Me to the Moon," and "New York, New York" are just some of the famous, legend making songs recreated in "My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra" opening the 29th season of the Douglas Morrisson Theatre.

Created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, the revue strings 58 hits into medleys grouped by subject matter such as Broadway, love and marriage, cities, and losers. Facts and reminiscences about Sinatra's life are delivered between medley batches leading the audience through his Big Band beginnings, rise to the silver screen, Rat Pack days and undisputed position as Chairman of the Board.

George Ledo's shadowy nightclub set is enticing, complete with bar, cocktails, and intimate tables with flickering candlelight. However, four performers seem too small a group for such a setting; you find yourself wondering where everybody is. Robert Sholty, Peter Alexander, Shauna Shoptaw, and Christa Boggs sing the timeless classics, though it is unclear whether they are playing characters or being themselves. They flirt, dance, and drink as the songs dictate and seem to be following some thin storyline of wooing nightclub patrons. At times fun, as with Boggs's and Alexander's "Love and Marriage" duet, the playacting is also odd and suspicious; again, where is everybody? Some extras on stage would enliven the atmosphere and add more weight to the performance.

The voices are experienced and authoritative but lack distinction and have a tendency to fall short of the material. Their polite polish continues uniformly until the end of the evening when "That's Life" finally shows some edge and punch. The band is the true chanteuse, repeatedly luring focus away from the singers and proving to be the evening's finest element. Don Turney's piano is a perfect delight, thrilling and vibrant as supported by bassist Devon Hood and drummer Todd Richardson.

"My Way" is disappointingly monotone despite the evocative setting and strong play list. The production is too proper and stylized for such a collection of fantastic songs, coming off as too much presentation, not enough passion. Most of the show's sparkle resides on the ladies' dresses and jewelry. For those needing a Frank fix, you'd be just as well off dimming your own house lights, shaking up a favorite cocktail and getting the goods straight from Old Blue Eyes himself.

Shows Thursday through Saturday begin at 8 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $25 for adults, $22 for seniors 60 and over, and $15 for students and juniors. Call (510) 881-6777 for tickets and more information or visit online at www.dmtonline.org.

My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra
February 15- March 16, 2008
8 p.m.; matinees at 2 p.m.
Douglas Morrisson Theatre
22311 N. Third Street, Hayward
(510) 881-6777
Prices: $15-$25

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