The names Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop conjure up images of Las Vegas entertainment at its best. Each had his own style, was very talented in his own way and each had incredible stage presence. But put them on stage together and magically they became the Rat Pack with an energy, style and even bigger stage presence.
Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show is a tribute to the Rat Pack and the era of true Las Vegas iconic entertainment. Now showing at the Cobb Energy Centre for the Performing Arts, the Rat Pack Show is not an impersonation show although the actors have the mannerisms of the icons they portray down pat. It is a tribute show that pays homage to the Rat Pack, the era from which they came, the music they played and the smoke-filled lounges they performed on; all recreated with genuine affection and respect for the artists they are portraying.
The whole premise of the original Rat Pack show was great entertainment created out of great friends playing around on stage. Sure there was some singing but the original show was not about song and dance; it was about how these guys interacted with each other and that’s the way this show is too!
The show opens with God (recorded by Sandy’s father Buddy Hackett before his death) sending the Rat Pack to earth for one last show. The Rat Pack sing the opening number and then each actor has time on stage performing their set; Joey Bishop’s stand-up humor, at times, was close to the knuckle and demanded attention at all times. I felt sorry for the audience member who was caught looking down at his program while Joey Bishop was doing his routine. From that point forward “Clyde” was mercilessly the target of Joey Bishop’s good-natured barbs. Even Sammy joined in later on in the show! It was great humor and all in good fun!
Dean Martin came on next and sang “That’s Amore” and “Volare” amidst some more story-telling. Sammy Davis Jr. finished the first half of the show with an original song written by Ron Miller, one of recent times most renowned songwriters and father of Lisa Dawn Miller, co star and co-producer of the show.
After the interval Frank Sinatra did several numbers including another Ron Miller song in duet with Lisa Dawn Miller, “Wasn’t I a good time?” whose refrain looks to examine lost love with regret; brilliantly sung by Frank and Frank’s lost love.
Then all four finish the show off with a number of songs and skits most of which were scripted but some were improvised on the spot.
If you’re looking for the Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. musical standards you’ll get those and they are very well done but the essence of this show is, as it was then, the interaction between the members of the Rat Pack on stage.
The actors are all incredibly talented with great voices and impeccable comedic timing. Their ability, the great band that backed them and the stark minimalist stage all combined to take the audience back to the early 1960’s in Las Vegas when true talent or star power was not manufactured or synthesized like it is today. Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack is a great tribute to a time and group of great artists but it’s also great entertainment in its own right.
Sandy Hackett’s rat Pack Show runs through March 17 at the Cobb Energy Centre for Performing Arts.