The Theatreguide.London Review
Palladium Theatre Summer-Autumn 2015
So you buy your ticket (top price £125 each), go to the theatre, and watch some fifty-year-old videotapes. If that's your idea of a Good Night Out, here it is.
There's more to it, of course. Sinatra is an elaborate stage production in which videos of Frank Sinatra singing are projected on large screens while an onstage band replaces or drowns out the original backing and a troupe of dancers do their thing.
But the main attraction is the same set of videos, mainly drawn from some American black-and-white TV shows Frank did in the early 1960s, that you can buy from Amazon or watch on YouTube.
This is essentially the same show that played the Palladium in 2006, though it's been revamped and spruced up. The videos, which were rather primitive and badly made back then, are beautifully remastered and polished, and the new choreography isn't just distracting filler, but some really excellent stage dancing.
The early 1960s saw Sinatra at the peak of his powers, and there is no question that these performances are great.
One classic song after another – All Of Me, It Was A Very Good Year, I Get A Kick Out Of You – about thirty in all – is sung as well as they have ever been sung by anyone anywhere.
And a select few – In The Still Of The Night, New York New York, My Way and the absolutely definitive One For My Baby – are sung better than anybody ever has or ever will.
There's a rough narrative backbone to the show provided by a reminiscing TV interview Sinatra once gave, and occasional attempts to connect songs with events in his life.
Ava Gardner is photoshopped into the video of I Got It Bad, a montage of the Rat Pack accompanies You Make Me Feel So Young, and My Funny Valentine is about Mia Farrow.
But mainly it's Frank, Frank and the dancers, or the dancers alone. Choreography is credited only to 'GJD Choreography', and the dancers have been moved largely to interludes between the videos so they don't compete or distract.
The staging is inventive and exciting as twenty dancers fill the stage with colour and movement, particularly excelling in a high-energy Sing Sing Sing (the Benny Goodman classic arrangement oddly used to represent Frank's years with Tommy Dorsey) and Luck Be A Lady.
I criticised the slapdash 2006 version for being a cynical insult to an audience that deserved better.
This is better, but I still feel you can get most of what's best about it for free over on YouTube.
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Review - Sinatra - London Palladium 2015