Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

December 17, 2009

Christmas with the Rat Pack—Live at the Sands

The Bushnell, Hartford, CT
through December 20, 2009
by R.E. Smith

“Christmas with the Rat Pack” reinforces the notion that “they just don’t make ‘em like that anymore”. The personalities, the songs, even the tuxes all serve to transport the audience to a different time and place. The time is the ‘60s, the place is Las Vegas, and the performers are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

These are not impersonators, but rather actors portraying a character and they make it look easy. The presence of the originals literally hangs over the stage, to remind us that no one can duplicate the original, but we can invoke their spirit. The illusion works very well and makes for a great night of old-school “showbiz”.

Tam Ward conveyed Sinatra’s effortless phrasing and delivery on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and “The Christmas Song”. Michael Howard Smith, captured Martin’s smooth charm and laid back delivery on “That’s Amore” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Of the three, David Hayes (Davis) had the greatest physical likeness to his “character” which served him well as Davis was the ebullient song and dance man.

This is no karaoke revue; the 15-piece orchestra was powerful and tight and the men’s voices were strong and well trained. The score must have been based on the original arrangements, because every horn blast and drum hit had the unmistakable sound of that bygone era. These entertainers use no vocal acrobatics or flashy costume changes, leaving the audience to concentrate on the essence of classic songs, seasonal and secular.

The banter retains just enough political incorrectness to remind you that this was a different era, but the material and songs are suitable for the whole family. Take the grandparents for an authentic taste of the good old days and take the tweens so that they can learn to appreciate true, live entertainment.