note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Carl A. Rossi
Voice of God … The Late Buddy Hackett
Frank Sinatra … Jonathan Poretz
Sammy Davis, Jr. … Kenny Jones
Joey Bishop … Mickey Joseph
Dean Martin … Johnny Edwards
The title says its all: “THE RAT PACK RETURNS IN THE TRIBUTE TO FRANK, SAMMY, JOEY AND DEAN”; this is the long-running Las Vegas revue celebrating four members of the legendary Rat Pack and is now back at the Stoneham Theatre following last season’s sold-out run. The evening continues to be double-nostalgia with impersonators of Frank Sinatra (the Chairman of the Board), Sammy Davis, Jr. (the one-eyed dynamo), Joey Bishop (the sourpuss comedian) and Dean Martin (the tipsy Lothario) singing standards and clowning around but also for its vanished Playboy culture where any Joe in a tux could swing and score, backed by that phase of Lounge music closer to Big Band than Bacharach.
And the impersonations? Jonathan Poretz, Kenny Jones, Mickey Joseph and Johnny Edwards capture enough of the Pack’s mannerisms and singing styles to achieve an illusion of the Real Thing (their own looks merge with and separate from their subjects’, throughout). Last season I scribbled, “Some plumbing of the Pack’s souls would have led to richer (and darker) characterizations but when nostalgia overtakes the past, an audience will not put up with much tampering.” The current TRIBUTE has since been revised: the Marilyn Monroe character has been dropped which makes sense since Ms. Monroe didn’t run with the Pack, anyway, and the banter is now bawdier, presumably along the lines of the original acts; on the night I attended, the audience --- most of them, Golden Oldies, themselves --- relished each tune, each blue joke and the swaggering camaraderie; if last year’s version was Family Night, this year it’s Adults Only.
The Rat Pack has been trotted out in various media formats, lately, which, I assume, is due to a returning conservatism --- at least today’s twentysomethings can now discover a treasure trove of great songs though after viewing a DVD of the original Pack rabidly upstaging each other in concert, I can only imagine what would have happened if they DIDN’T like each other.