In the setting of the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, I was expecting The Rat Pack to bring me on a nostalgic trip to the early 60s when Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin intoxicated adoring fans. After all, the revue is billed as “Together Again: The Rat Pack Tribute Show is a magical re-creation of the music, antics, and camaraderie of three of the most legendary entertainers of all time–Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr.”
Occasional glimpses of the Rat Pack’s prime occurred when the performers,, Geno Monroe, (Sammy Davis, Jr.) and Johnny Petillo (Dean Martin), either alone or together, sang full versions of some of the Pack’s best-known songs, including the closing number, “New York, New York.” The far too extensive updated patter, including references to cell phones, Cialis, Sam’s Club, and Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky, shattered the spell. The Gary Peters Band was right on beat though their sound balance was sometimes from the wrong decade.
Monroe was masterful in replicating Sammy Davis, Jr.’s phrasing in two of his signature numbers, “Candy Man”and “Mr. Bojangles.” Davis’s character was enhanced by Monroe’s integration of his style and the way he moved, including soft-shoe passages. He was never without Davis’s traditional cigarette, gold rings on every finger, flat-top, and flashy glasses.
Sands, who has been impersonating Sinatra for 20 years, transformed the first set by his renditions of “World on a String”and “Fly Me to the Moon.” His last solo song, “My Way,” made it possible to believe that Sinatra’s spirit was still lingering.
Petillo’s best Martin song was “Everybody Loves Somebody.” He had the audience in stitches with “All The Girls I’ve Loved Before,” which included impressions of Willie Nelson, Julio Iglesias, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Ed Sullivan, Rodney Dangerfield, Johnny Mathis and Barry White. Though it seems impossible, Petillo appeared to overplay Martin’s drinking problem, especially during the patter in the middle of the performance.
Much of the second set was a series of short bits from eight songs. Consisting mostly of lead-ins, many of the numbers did not jog my memory of the full song.
In an attempt to compensate, the performers sometimes identified the song after they sang. Most notable was Sand’s naming of “Angel Eyes,”which would otherwise have been totally unidentifiable.
The Rat Pack Together Again is an evening of entertainment that is loosely based on three crooners from the 60s. However, if you really want to see the magic of the members of the Rat Pack in in their prime – check out the many videos of their performances on YouTube.
Running Time: Two hours, with one fifteen-minute intermission
The Rat Pack Together Again performed on August 30, 2014 at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club –7719 Wisconsin Avenue, in Bethesda MD. The performance schedule of The Rat Pack Together Again can be found here. Upcoming events at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz and Supper Club can be found on their website.