The name of the show is My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.
That is really about all you need to know to decide if want to see the current production at Theatre Arlington. If you are a fan of the biggest hits by Ol’ Blue Eyes, and aren’t picky about how they are done or by whom, this is your show.
And, conversely, if you cringed or dozed off while reading the title, you already know to stay away.
That being said, it should be pointed out that this revue’s name is a bit misleading. It is not a tribute to Sinatra so much as it is to the Great American Songbook. Although Sinatra is justly awarded ownership of a few of these classics, (and My Way certainly falls into that category), most of the well-traveled standards on the bill have been recorded by dozens of other crooners and songbirds.
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The show, which was created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, also does little to reveal its title character. A few quotes and biographical tidbits are dropped in between numbers. But, since the show samples more than 50 Sinatra covers across its two acts, there is not much time for anything but song delivery.
Don’t expect to see a single artist channeling Sinatra, or to hear the arrangements he used.
Instead, four singers reinvent the songs in various groupings. In the opening number, Strangers in the Night, for example, the lyrics are passed from singer to singer, as if to serve notice that the audience will not be hearing these Sinatra favorites done as they remember them.
The quartet of singers — Jeff Wells, Jonathan Hardin, Shannah Rae and Graham Galloway — are all quite capable. Galloway stands out because of her excellent voice and ability to come across as being the most comfortable with the material. But Rae also steals the spotlight at times (That Old Black Magic, among others).
While the performances from the men have no “wow” moments, they go about their tuxedo-clad business well enough.
But, oddly, while the singers score high marks in solos and duets, their voices do not blend as a quartet. So the numbers that involve all hands, such as a painful rendition of All the Way, are much less appealing than the other efforts.
The vocalists are supported by a trio — music director Jonathan Kennedy on piano, Reyes Sanchez on drums and Joe Feldstein on bass — located on stage at the back of Anthony Curtis’ stylish set intended to recall a 1950s cocktail lounge.
There is nothing lacking in the trio’s playing. But almost every song has the same cool, swingin’ feel in its arrangement.
The show, directed by Dennis Yslas, also has a few dance steps. But the choreography by Joshua Sherman is firmly rooted in cliched ballroom dancing moves .
So, again, if you love the Great American Songbook at any cost, you might find this cabaret show trying to pass as theatrical entertainment to be as satisfying as a fifth of bourbon and a carton of cigarettes.
My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra