The Rat Pack Lounge

The Rat Pack Lounge

The Rat Pack Lounge
By James Hindman and Ray Roderick
Musical Arrangements by John Glaudini
Directed and choreographed by Rob Winn Anderson
Musical Direction by Chris Leavy
Winter Park Playhouse, Winter Park FL

The good news: This is the most edgy thing WPPH has ever staged. The bad news: it’s almost sold out, so you may not get to see it unless you have inside connections. The premise is Hollywood theology: Frank Sinatra (Kevin Kelly,) Dean Martin (Christopher Alan Norton) and Sammy Davis Jr (Deejay Young) can’t stay in heaven as someone they interacted with is about to commit suicide. If they can’t reverse the process, it’s “H-E Double Hockey Sticks” for the boys. That depressed guy is Vic Candelino (Todd Mummert); he runs a dive bar about to be leveled to make a parking lot for Hooter’s. Can they cheer him up? Can they teach him to sing? Can they all get back to 1968?

It turns out they CAN get Vic to sing and one of the more impressive parts of this show is how he handles singing badly. It’s not something he naturally does and I dare say I could still undersing him, but it’s a cool transformation. The music is all jazzy lounge hits, “Fly Me to the Moon,” “I’m Going to Live Till I Die,” “Young at Heart;” you get the picture. While neither Kelly, Young nor Norton are particularity good look a-likes, by the end of the evening you will totally buy into them with Kelly most successfully projecting the arrogance and control “The Chairman of the Board” is known for. Local bombshell Sara-lee Dobbs drops in as Angie Dickenson, she has one of those classic “frumpy secretary turns into blond bombshell transformations,” and she gets to belt a few hits of her own including the sexually charged “Too Close for Comfort.” Sara-lee to close? Never!

While the music (backed by the house band of Leavy, Wilkinson and Forrest) is spectacular as always the material is surprisingly dark. Suicide, alcoholism and abandonment lurk under this happy pop collage, and while there is an obligatory happy ending, there are some rather dark moments. Thus, this show has a more complete dramatic feel as it explores our darker dreams and hidden vices. But if we have to trot them out in public, I would recommend this skilled set of crooners to make it all seem better.

For more information on Winter Park Playhouse, please visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org

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