Last night at the Strathmore the Rat Pack rose again. Sandy Hackett, the son of legendary comedian Buddy Hacket, played Joey Bishop, Tom Wallek was Dean Martin, Louie Velez, played Sammy Davis, Jr. and Danny Grewen was the Leader of the Pack-Frank Sinatra. All four were uncanny in resurrecting these four legendary Rat Pack members by recreating their voices and demeanors and wore attire that the Rat Pack wore when they performed in Las Vegas. These four talented artists evoked their powerful chemistry and risqué humor. This was a bromance that was fun to observe, interspersed with contemporaneous jokes – I don’t think they actually had Viagra yet – that elicited many laughs from the mostly ‘over 50 crowd’ who attended.
Lisa Dawn Miller, the daughter of the late songwriter Ron Miller and the wife of Sandy Hackett belted several of her father’s hits, including “For Once in My Life” and “I Should Have Said.” She is a capable singer, and has been producing and remaking many songs she found in her father’s archives, which had not been revealed in his lifetime.
These were men who relished their time away from their essential but irritating spouses and mother-in-laws, and who were free to drink up a storm and smoke without apology. One of Sammy Davis’ jokes invoked the experiment of testing his dog and his woman to see who loved him the most. He proposed locking them both together in the trunk of a car, waiting 12 hours, and when releasing them, to observe who was most glad to see him.
The singing was great, with a myriad of iconic songs, especially those associated with Frank Sinatra like “That Old Black Magic,” “My Kind of Town,” “Come Fly with Me”, and “New York, New, York.” and “A Foggy Day.” We were also treated to many songs made famous by Dean Martin, including the crowd-pleasing “Drink to Me Only” and “That’s Amore,” as well as “Volare.” Lisa Dawn Miller joined “Frank” in a couple of duets and Sammy Davis, Jr. was just as ribaud as I remember him, spreading sexist and racist jokes which we seemed to have permission to enjoy as historic reminiscences. Sammy Davis and Joey Bishop joined together in a medley of “Mr Bojangles” and “Will I Still Be Me”, while Hackett (as Joey Bishop) played by Hackett was spectacular in “Sam’s Song,” as well as the character of Yossi Bishop, a kind of indian/Chinese personage who floated around in drag being provocative and poking fun at Frank’s assumption of control of the group. I especially enjoyed his choreographed and ostensibly improvised little dances and forays into the audience. He doesn’t resemble his father physically, so it’s inspired for him to become Joey Bishop in this lineup. Velez also showed off his ability to play with the audience and engage some audience members in little bits, with or without their cooperation.
Some of the great songwriters of the era were heard here, including songs by George Gershwin, Frank Loesser, Cole Porter, Berry Gordy, Harold Arlen, Anthony Newley, Jimmy Van Heusen, Sammy Cahn, Paul Anka, Ray Henderson, Buddy DeSylva, and Lew Brown. Billy Karl directed the high-energy show, while Ryan Rose musical directed. Sandy Hackett was credited as the writer, producer, creator, and ‘Voice of God.’
Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show was a fun evening with lots of belly laughs and honored many of the great names in the world of music.
Running Time: The program was approximately two hours, with a fifteen minute break.
Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show played at Strathmore on Friday, September 27, 2013 at The Music Center at Strathmore – 5301 Tuckerman Lane, in North Bethesda, MD. For tickets for future Strathmore events, go to their website.
Sandy Hackett’s website.
Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show on Tour website.