Luxe Life Blog

Rat Pack Show star Lisa Dawn Miller on Frank Sinatra’s one love

Posted July 12, 2011 • 3:03 p.m.

Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner.

Photo: Courtesy

Editor’s Note: One of today’s guest columnists is Lisa Dawn Miller of Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show while Robin Leach takes his well-deserved annual vacation to Europe (follow him on his travels at Every day, a new column, plus the usual Strip Scribbles, Tonight’s Tips and Tomorrow’s Teases -- and you never know what Robin will dig up in the wine country north of Rome, so please check back daily.

By Lisa Dawn Miller

Every night, I get to step into a fantasy. I play Frank Sinatra’s One Love in Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show. I produce the show with my husband, Sandy Hackett, who created the role for me after he fell in love with an original song my father (legendary songwriter Ron Miller -- “For Once in My Life”) wrote years ago titled “Wasn’t I a Good Time.”

There are a lot of Rat Pack-themed shows in town. We wanted to be different and have stayed away from being a tribute show. Instead, we are a theatrical production that gives our audience the experience of what it would have been like to witness The Rat Pack live onstage in 1960.

However, what really makes our show unique is that we have woven in a narrative element using my father’s brilliant original songs (discovered after his death in 2007) to tell a little bit of the story behind the lives of these iconic legends.

Rat Pack Show, Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner

Enter Ava Gardner, the gorgeous, passionate, sexy siren who not only captured Frank Sinatra’s heart, but also became his obsession, joy and pain until the day he died. She was the one and only woman Frank couldn’t tame. Their passionate, tumultuous love affair contained the once-in-a-lifetime explosive mix of pain, pleasure, love and tragedy rivaled only by the pure, yet raw sexual desire and desperate emotional need for each other.

At last, Frank had found a true partner with a soul whose turbulence equaled his own. While they were the most beautiful, glamorous couple, Frank and Ava both had profound feelings of worthlessness, which expressed itself in volcanic furies.

Sex was healing, if only in the moment -- strong, raw and emotional. Ava said after her first time making love to Frank, “It was magic. We became ¬lovers forever, eternally. Big words, I know, but I truly felt that no matter what happened, we would always be in love.” As for Frank, he said it best himself when he told Ava, “All my life, being a singer was the most important thing in the world. Now you’re all I want.”

Leach Blog Photo

Mayor Oscar Goodman, Lisa Dawn Miller and Sandy Hackett.

We don’t call my character Ava in the show. Instead, we let the audience decide for themselves who Frank Sinatra’s one love really was. It’s become a real talking point about the show. Some people think it was Nancy, others say Barbara, and some think it wasn’t a romantic interest at all but instead the love for his children. Most believe it was Ava.

Every night, I walk onto that stage and I look into Frank’s eyes (portrayed brilliantly by the incomparable David DeCosta). When I look into Frank’s soul, I can feel his pain, passion and emotional innocence. The attraction is magnetic. It’s for one moment, in a lifetime of sadness, but it’s their moment, like so many they shared together -- a moment for the pain to go away and surrender to only each other -- and only they knew.

I know it can only be her when I look into Frank’s eyes and sing, “Incidentally, take me gently to where the pleasure meets the pain. Walk away in silence, you can let your eyes explain. But wasn’t I a good time, baby? Wasn’t I the best?” And only Frank could have understood.

Leach Blog Photo

Sandy Hackett and Lisa Dawn Miller.

This month, we will be officially announcing our 2011-2012 theater tour, which kicks off in October, at The show will be appearing throughout the U.S., with more than 70 stops including New York, Florida, Chicago and L.A.

Tomorrow, welcomes Flamingo headliner magician Nathan Burton and Chef Charlie Palmer of Charlie Palmer Steakhouse at the Four Seasons. Guest columnists this year include Holly Madison, Donny Osmond and cast members of Jubilee!, Absinthe and Jersey Boys, along with Chef Julian Serrano and Pawn Stars favorite Austin “Chumlee” Russell, plus other surprises including nightlife analysis by Jesse Waits and Jack Colton.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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