Theatre review: The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular

The Rat Pack tribute
The Rat Pack tribute
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THE Sixties, oh to relive the glamour, the atmosphere, the music. That’s the aim of The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular, anyway, a singalong stage show featuring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior-a-likes supported by a strong band and four lithe dancing ladies. Yet the result is not so much the Vegas of our Mad Men fantasies as Vegas by way of Butlins Skegness.

The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular

Playhouse, Greenside Place

* * * *

Yes, the show is well put together in many respects. The ensemble cover an excellent set of audience favourites comfortably, the performers meet their cues and they manage to get everyone on their feet clapping and singing to the music. They’ve tailored the show to include cheeky references to the place they’re playing in and throw in mentions for audience members who are celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. There are even a few genuine laughs in the cheesy schtick.

Where the night falls down, however, is in their chief selling point – emulating the original “Rat Pack”. Frankly, they’d be a far better outfit if they dropped any pretence at being a tribute to the original and got on with singing the songs and having a bit of a giggle with the punters.

In pretending to be the originals they over-egg the pudding with all the things that weren’t so great about the era – rampant alcoholism, casual racism in the form of “gags” and a side order of misogyny all dressed up as light-hearted “fun”.

Wayne Kennedy’s Dean Martin is effortless when performing yet ambles about the stage in a drunken fug rather than really embracing the subtlety of Martin’s relaxed barfly schtick. Roman Marek had the bolshy confidence to cover Frank Sinatra but his voice was too low and gravelly and phrasing of lyrics too different to really portray the singer. James Jnr’s Sammy Davis Junior was the closest approximation, the actor capturing the essence of Davis’s personality and quick sense of humour.

Together they have the vocal range and strength to pull off an entertaining evening of Sixties classics, hanging on to the notion that they need to BE cheap imitations prevents them from being more than the sum of their parts.