Posted: 2:14 a.m. Saturday, March 16, 2013
By Melissa Ruggieri
Of course the Rat Pack will strongly appeal to a certain generation, the folks who spent their young adult lives admiring the cool of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr.
But there is a timeless quality to the music, the look and, most importantly, the attitude projected by the foursome – and all three are conveyed with a wink, a nod and a lot of vocal prowess in “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show,” playing at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre through Sunday afternoon.
At Friday night’s performance, an 11-piece band played as the core four – creator Hackett as Bishop, Tony Basile as Martin, Dezmond Meeks as Davis Jr. and Danny Grewen as Sinatra – smoothly whirled through two acts of classic songs, some soft-shoe dancing (mostly by the nimble Meeks, who appears a bit young to be part of this crew) and some truly funny jokes (mostly by the multi-accented Hackett).
Oh, sure, did some of it venture in Borscht Belt territory? Of course. And why not when you consider the demographic most interested in a rat pack revival?
Were there a few too many Viagra references? Well, yeah, maybe. But again, demographics rule.
But frequently throughout the show, the group, especially the admirably quick Hackett, massaged the canned material to interact with the audience (when one fellow clad in a plaid shirt returned to his seat mid-set, Hackett/Bishop quipped, “Did they give you a chainsaw with that shirt?”) and throw in a few Georgia references (Lake Lanier and, for some reason, Augusta, were favorite topics).
The loose plot of the show centers on the Rat Pack being sent back to Earth for one last concert. After a few group songs to open the two-hour production, the first act showcases the material of Martin – his womanizing ways given a charming buffoonish-ness by Basile – and Davis Jr.
While Basile sounded perfectly adept on the Italian favorites “That’s Amore” and “Volare,” it was impossible not to be impressed by Meeks’ terrific range as he crooned “That Old Black Magic” and “Will I Still Be Me?”, an original song written by Ron Miller, father of Lisa Dawn Miller, who portrays “Frank’s One Love” in act two.
(Miller is also Hackett’s wife and co-produces the show with him. Check out my recent interview with her.)
Grewen, meanwhile, imbued Sinatra with a perfect level of chilliness. A medley of Sinatra songs (“Come Fly with Me,” “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Fly Me to the Moon” among them) was delivered with ease and style and the audience caught a glimpse of Sinatra’s wistful side when Miller came out to belt “Wasn’t I A Good Time,” also written by her father, in her soaring voice.
By the time the quartet was back onstage together for a potent “Luck be a Lady,” “Mack the Knife” and “A Foggy Day” (with humorous visual aid provided by Hackett/Bishop), it became apparent that while a certain demographic might be most interested in this music, everyone should educate themselves about it.
“Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show.” 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $17-$46.50. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.