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Review: Books, Theatre, Albums, Movies and Gigs

The Rat Pack, Live from Las Vegas.

Director & Choreographer Mitch Sebastian
Produced by Flying Music

Liverpool Empire 3 – 8th September
Ticket prices from £13.50 - £25.0

Reviewed Monday 3rd September 2007 by Margaret Murphy

The Rat Pack: promotional image

From the opening number, Luck Be A Lady, the audience at the Empire theatre on Monday knew their luck was in. Played with the assurance of a star sure of his welcome, Triffitt’s performance is so effortlessly like Sinatra that it feels uncannily like being in the presence of ’Ole Blue Eyes himself. The mannerisms, the Sinatra syncopation, and the interaction of the characters on stage create a narrative and delineate the hierarchy of the relationships perfectly.

David Hayes projects the nervous energy and suppressed neuroses of Sammy Davis Jnr splendidly – and what a voice! Although Nigel Casey’s Amore lacked the richness of Dean Martin’s register, his voice seemed to warm up as the evening progressed, and he is likeable and convincing as the insouciant and gently inebriated Martin. He made the Dean Martin quips sound like genuine ad lib, delivered them with great timing and deservedly got the biggest laughs.

Lucie Florentine, Anna Carmichael and Andrea Wingelaar looked ravishing as the Burelli Sisters and provided excellent vocal backing. For pure virtuosity, though, you couldn’t fault Hayes – he sang For Once in My Life with anger and passion, and it is Hayes’s Sammy Davis Jnr that provides the edge to the ensemble. Davis is frequently the butt of jokes for his size – at one point, Dean Martin picks him up and says, ‘I’d like to thank the Academy for this Award…’ – and there are several references to the racial inequality still prevalent in the United States in the sixties. But the jokes, the physical comedy and the banter between three keep the show upbeat and always entertaining.

The second half begins with Dean Martin and Sinatra in a duet – Martin propped on a bar stool and Sinatra on a stumpy version that prompts Martin to ask, ‘Are you gonna sing a song or milk something on that?’ Triffitt works the laughs, Hayes later joins in, and the three launch into a dazzling spoof medley. Hayes and Casey bow out for Triffitt’s finale. His rendition of My Way conjure up Sinatra at the peak of his powers, and on this occasion brought the audience to its feet.

The Rat Pack is based on a series of performances the three gave in 1960 at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, during the filming of Ocean’s Eleven. It was a miserable experience for the director Lewis Milestone – in twenty-five days of filming in Vegas, Sinatra showed up on set for just nine. But the twice-nightly shows at the Sands Hotel made it the coolest nightspot in Vegas – and Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis and Dean Martin created a legend that has been recreated on the Liverpool Empire stage in a must-see production. The Rat Pack is the toe-tappingest, swinginest show in town.

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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
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