Wednesday, November 14, 2012
The Rat Pack, live and in person at the Woodlands
WHOWEEEEE, what a show, Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show was fun, hilarious and strangely satisfying. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop stormed the Woodlands stage in Hot Springs Village and commanded the audience’s total attention while singing, dancing and zinging jokes saturated with sexual innuendo. My belly muscles got a total workout from deep, rich laughs in response to the witty repartee. I, like every member of the audience got lost in the illusion of the Rat Pack.
David DeCosta embodies Frank Sinatra. His chiseled Roman face makes it easy to believe Sinatra is back from heaven crooning his most popular tunes. DeCosta has the Sinatra mannerisms, classic blue-eyed stare, engaging talking voice and, of course, the dulcet tones that made Sinatra’s music unforgettable. DeCosta was simply Sinatra, no doubt about it. The second half of the show was heavy on Sinatra and totally satisfying.
Louie Velez stole my heart as Sammy Davis, Jr. Velez was always dancing just like Davis. Velez and Davis, both diminutive men with big voices. Velez was dead on Davis with no problem sustaining the character and making the audience believe he was Davis. Velez has the signature Davis vibrato down pat as well as every mannerism. He stole the show’s first half with his rendition of Will I Still Be Me? right before the intermission. Velez is a very high energy performer.
Tom Wallek as Dean Martin was charming. Like Martin, Wallek stroked his chest and strutted around the stage while talking and singing. Wallek is terribly good looking and sometimes I had to close my eyes to get the clearest picture of Martin. The sound was perfect. As the night moved on Wallek morphed into Martin more and more and there was no longer any difference in the way Wallek looked and believing he was Dean Martin. During the course of the show Wallek did other impressions as well, a very good mimic.
That brings us to the creator and co-producer of this gem of a show, Sandy Hackett. The first thing you heard out of audience members was, he’s Buddy Hackett’s son. Yes, tis true, and the voice of Buddy Hackett makes a brief appearance at the top of the show as God’s voice. Gone but not forgotten. But, from the moment Sandy Hackett takes the stage, he is Joey Bishop or as he refers to him off stage, Uncle Joey. As in real life, Bishop kept the shows moving with his deadpan humor and Hackett did the same thing. Hackett could heckle like the best of them. On opening night he wandered up from the audience in one number to heckle one stern-faced audience member, none other than our recently retired Director of the Department of Public Safety, A. Laroy Cornett. Less than a week ago Hackett could have been arrested by Cornett.
After intermission there is a very special number with the co-producer of the show, Sandy’s wife and the daughter of composer Ron Miller, Lisa Dawn Miller. This woman has a great set of pipes, a sultry alto, oh and did I mention she is gorgeous as well. She belts out a pitch-perfect Wasn’t I a Good Time as Frank’s lost love, probably Ava Gardner. Miller gives us a break from the all man show and gives purpose to Frank’s love songs. Although not integral to the Rat Pack, she is a much appreciated respite from the surplus of testosterone.
As the evening came to a close the couple in front of me turned and told me, “they’ll have to go far to beat this one, we think it was great.” Yes, it was everything I thought it could be and more. Go see Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show for a fun night of Vegas-styled entertainment. This was a show I wouldn’t mind seeing again in the future.
Thursday and Friday nights of the Concerts’ Association performances of Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show are sold out but tickets might be available on the exchange at hsvtickets.com. Subscriptions are still available for the Concerts’ Association through its website at hsvconcertsassoc.org.