Early on in “My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” – the easily charming, unpretentious revue now at Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre that celebrates the man also known as “Ol’ Blue Eyes” – we are told that “more than half the population of the United States now over the age of 40 was probably conceived to the sound of Sinatra’s records.” We also are told that Duke Ellington once called Sinatra “the ultimate theater,” and that it would probably take a solid eight days to listen to all the songs he recorded over the course of his long career.
That would be eight days exceedingly well spent. But you can do the speed version in just about two hours thanks to this show, which was conceived by Todd Olson and David Grapes, and is now being performed by a young and talented cast of four (Kyrie Anderson, Caitlin Boho, Carl Herzog and Christopher Logan). Directed by Fred Anzevino, it features the sensational music direction of that bravura pianist, Jeremy Ramey, and his musicians (Kevin Brown on drums and Jake Saleh on bass).
‘MY WAY: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO FRANK SINATRA’
When: Through Jan. 31, 2016
Where: Theo Ubique Cabaret Theatre, 6970 N. Glenwood
Info: (800) 595-4849; www.theo-u.org
Run time: 2 hours, with one intermission
This is, of course, the 100th anniversary of that entertainer (born Dec. 12, 1915) who so memorably embraced the great American songbook, and left his indelible vocal imprint on many hundreds of its finest tunes. And while no one can match the unique timbre of Sinatra’s voice, or his subtly insinuating and seductive phrasing, or his tough guy-wrapped-in-a- melancholy spirit, it is enough to hear others sing the mostly familiar classics her favored — songs by everyone from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, to Rodgers and Hart, Kander and Ebb, Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer, Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne (and the list goes on). In fact, Sinatra’s interpretations almost seem to be humming along, layered beneath those of this younger generation of performers.
“My Way” features more than 50 songs, generally grouped thematically. There are selections from Hollywood films and Broadway shows (“Funny Valentine,” “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” “I Get a Kick Out of You”); songs with references to places (“I Love Paris,” “How About You? (I Like New York in June)”; “South of the Border,” “L.A. is My Lady,” “New York, New York”); and others conjuring the seasons (“Summer Wind,” “Something Wonderful Happens in Summer”). There are songs dealing with women – or “dames” and “chicks” as he might have put it (“The Tender Trap,” “Love and Marriage,” “Witchcraft,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”), as well as those emblematic of his “18-karat manic-depressive” Rat Pack days (“Drinking Again,” “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” “Here’s to the Losers”). And there is a tip of the hat to the moon, too (“Moonlight Serenade,” “Wave,” “Fly Me to the Moon”).
The four performers (with the men in white dinner jackets and the women in 1950s-style dresses) work beautifully together, sometimes taking turns on a single tune (as with “It Was a Very Good Year”), sometimes locked in a romantic (or adversarial) male-female duet, sometimes as soloists.
Herzog comes closest to evoking the Sinatra voice, and tap-master Logan suggests Sinatra’s wiry, youthful grace (with choreography by Maggie Portman). Anderson is the sophisticated femme fatale, and Boho is the vampy girl with the jazzy pipes.
But again and again it all comes round to Ramsey, who plays the original arrangements by Vince Di Mura. In addition to being a brilliant accompanist to the singers, the pianist fills the room with an orchestral sound that Sinatra himself would have applauded. And of course Theo Ubique’s intensely intimate space (with Adam Veness’ set of black brick walls imprinted with a classic fedora-topped picture of Sinatra), suggests just the kind of “saloon” the singer might have called home.