There is something about listening to Frank Sinatra that makes you feel cool, even a little badass. Maybe its the lyrics. The man sings about kicks from cocaine, and "makin whoopee, (which is Old English slang for sex). Thats pretty hardcore, even for todays standards, and proves that drugs and sex were popular pastimes way before Rock & Roll. Something about Frank makes you feel like having a smoke and a stiff drink. So going to see Actors Guild put on My Way, A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra was the perfect way to begin the weekend.
It was a musical tribute, so none of the actors played Sinatra, but all of the four tried on his attitude and arrogance between songs. At first they were somewhat wooden with delivering the cheese-ball lounge-singer lines, but by intermission they were all pretty fluid. Maybe the on-stage bar was real. What was important, however, was the music. Frank Sinatra was blessed with excellent composers and writers. For a moment, at the beginning of every song, you think, hurray
its my favorite. There were so many good songs! Quality songs. None of this one-hit wonder garbage. The well-rehearsed cast went seamlessly from one classic to another, from Ive Got the World on a String to Summer Wind. They even did a little dancing. Dancing and singing at the same time is as impressive as brain surgery. Although each of the actors had a fine singing voice, it seems unfair to compare them to Frank because his songs are so ingrained in our heads as his.
But they were successful in capturing his essence at certain points, namely Fly Me to the Moon, and It Was a Very Good Year. The second act was almost a different show entirely. All of the performers seemed more comfortable, and the mood shifted from a forced cheeriness to a lovely and cold melancholy. It was sad and dark and beautiful. The song Drinking Again, almost brought me to tears. I dont know if it was the isolation of the actor surrounded by darkness sitting under the spotlight, or the clarity of his sullen voice, or the wine that I downed during intermission, but something about it moved me. One for My Baby, was also beautifully done. The cooler, lonely songs, were bested by the group, however, at the end, Adam Luckey did spice things up Sinatra-style, leading into My Way, the show and the artists signature. I should also mention that the show was highlighted with various photographs of Frank presented on screens throughout the performance, and that the musical accompaniment was absolutely flawless. Overall, I really enjoyed the tribute and I applaud the actors, musicians and behind-the-scenes-people at Actors Guild for bringing us such quality entertainment. They prove a valuable asset to our community show after show.
For next week it is almost nauseating how much stuff is going on. Id like to sift through the mess of funnel cakes and sparklers to point out stuff you might miss. There are several big band groups playing, which is a nice change of pace from the usual Lexington scene. The Swing Masters, The Jazz Arts Foundation Youth Ensemble and Men of Note are all playing downtown Saturday, (check the coverstory for times). Another interesting addition to the festival is Grupo Balanca. They are a Brazilian martial arts group, performing on the corner of Mill and Vine, Saturday morning at 10:30. From what I know, Brazilian martial arts consist of extremely challenging body movements that resemble the fluidity of break-dancing. Whatever it is, they should be cool to watch. The Waiters Race is always a trip, and it will be held at Phoenix Park at noon. Finally, Zydeco Bon is a Cajun group that you should check out. They are playing in Triangle Park at 4:00 in the afternoon. So after you run your 10k, exhaust yourself on kiddy trampolines and stuff your face with carnival food, be sure to chill out and see at least a show or two. After all, it is a holiday. n