Dan Berger 
Member since Mar 17, 2013


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Re: “Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show

This show has some good stuff in it. The Dean Martin character really evokes him. The Sammy Davis character, kinda. The Sinatra one, not so much. His singing is good but not, to my ear, reminiscent of Sinatra's; his stage persona and mannerisms didn't really bring Sinatra to life; and the show itself doesn't give him much stage business to help color the character in. He sings and acts as straight man to Sammy and Dino, and stands around. That's about it.

The biggest problem, though, is Sandy Hackett's and Lisa Miller's efforts to write themselves and their respective dads into the show. Buddy Hackett was part of that era, but not really the Rat Pack. Sandy Hackett plays Rat Pack comedian Joey Bishop, but gives him this Yiddishy-Brooklyny accent I don't recall Bishop having; I got the feeling Hackett was really doing his dad. The Bishop character is made far too central to the show, hogs the spotlight too much, and actually sings. The comic shtick surround him is mostly pretty good, but it's a stretch to get folks in the door focusing on Frank, Sammy and Dino, and instead find it's more about Bishop, so that Sandy Hackett can do him while actually paying homage to his dad.

Likewise Lisa Miller, daughter of Motown songwriter Ron Miller. His songs are inserted into the show; his connection to the Rat Pack, other than this or that cover one or another of them may have done of a couple of his songs, is pretty tangential. But Lisa herself plays "Frank's Mysterious Love", a bit inserted apropos of nothing in the show in which she hogs the spotlight for about 10 minutes singing a torch song written by her late father that I didn't recognize and don't recall Sinatra ever singing. This in a show, mind you, where the main singer characters hardly get to sing a complete song, even the major standards associated with them. And, I hate to see it, but Lisa Miller doesn't look the part, and definitely needed not to be wearing a an evening gown slit to the hip.

This show has a lot of potential. I'd find a singer who can do and impersonate Sinatra better than this one. If they keep the Frank's Mystery Lover bit, I'd find a younger singer who looks the part. Sammy Davis' character has a high bar to clear: he needs to dance better, maybe know enough tap to be dangerous, not just soft shoe. Sandy Hackett needs to downplay his Bishop character some - and get a better toupee. He looks a lot older, both alone and in comparison with the other principals, than Bishop did in the Rat Pack heyday. The program lists his and Miller's son as playing "The Young Frank", although that bit was not in the March 16 performance.

There's an electricity that ought to be generated here. It's also a high bar to clear; these guys are so ubiquitous in film and TV and video and records that we're much more attuned to every little thing about them. "Jersey Boys", by comparison, didn't have it that bad; we haven't spent that much time watching Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Mostly we just heard them on the radio. But the road shows of "Jersey Boys" (I've seen it twice) are at their best electrifying. It can be done. This show ought to aspire to that.

It's like the Hackett-Miller family got together and said, "Let's put on a show!" It'll be better if they dial back their own presence in it.

Posted by Dan Berger on 03/17/2013 at 4:46 PM

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