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 The Theatreguide.London Review

Sinatra at the London Palladium
Palladium Theatre        Spring-Autumn 2006

So you buy your ticket, go to the theatre, and watch videotapes of Frank Sinatra television specials from the early 1960s.

If that's your idea of a Good Night Out, here it is.

There's a little more to it than that, of course. There's an onstage band accompanying the tapes, whose original backing has either been erased or just drowned out.

And there's a chorus line dancing their hearts out in front of the big screens, though mainly you'll ignore them to watch Frank.

But essentially you're paying to see old black-and-white TV clips, some of the same ones you can buy on DVD or watch on YouTube.

The recordings of Frank all come from the 1960s, when he was at the peak of his powers, and there's no question that he is great.

In the roughly biographical structure, accompanied by audio clips from some Sinatra interviews, we get only a couple of silent glimpses of the younger bobby-soxer-idol Sinatra, and only one song (Send In the Clowns) from the grey-haired Frank.

Some of the TV clips have their backgrounds clumsily Photoshopped out, leaving Frank floating in mid-air with a shimmering outline, while 'I Got It Bad' Zeligs him into shots of Ava Gardner.

Other songs accompany clip montages - 'Send in the Clowns' to some dark images of the 1960s, 'Stupid' to shots of Frank and Mia Farrow, and the like.

Perhaps the best is a cross-cutting of three or four versions of 'YouMake Me Feel so Young' along with shots of Dean and Sammy cavorting, though a surely unintentional side joke is watching Frank's various toupees switch back and forth during the song.

This is theatre-for-people-who-don't-go-to-the-theatre, and that's a legitimate audience. But people who settle for this cold and cynical show in their search for a Good Night Out are underestimating and undervaluing themselves.

There are plenty of other shows, like Phantom, Les Miserables, Mamma Mia and Mary Poppins, that serve that audience with respect and real value-for-money.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of  Sinatra At The London Palladium - Palladium 2006