BWW Reviews: ADELAIDE CABARET FESTIVAL 2014: DAVI SINGS SINATRA: ON THE ROAD TO ROMANCE Is a Marvellous Tribute to His Mentor by Robert Davi
Reviewed Sunday 8th June 2014
Robert Davi is best known for his many tough guy roles in films and television shows, but there is a completely different side to his talent, and he gets a chance to show this in a tribute to the great Frank Sinatra and the Great American Song Book. Davi Sings Sinatra: On the Road to Romance, is a collection of a small fraction of Sinatra's hits. If all of his hits were included, we'd have been there for weeks, but that would quite acceptable to the very enthusiastic audience that packed the Festival Theatre.
It seems as though every song that Sinatra sang turned to solid gold. What's more, as Davi works his way through this marvellous string of numbers, one cannot help realising how many of the lyrics we know by heart. Sinatra died in 1998 and yet there are some young people who were born near that time who can not only recognise his voice the moment they hear it, but they are familiar enough with the lyrics that they can happily sing along.
Davi does not try to mimic Sinatra's voice, or blatantly copy his phrasing and styling. He captures the atmosphere of each song, and one can hear Sinatra in each one, but Davi sings them his own way, giving them new life. His Musical Director is the Grammy Award winning arranger, Randy Waldman. As well as his own musicians, a group of players from the Adelaide Art Orchestra join him, creating a terrific big band. One cannot help but think of those sensational recordings that Sinatra made with the Count Basie Orchestra. Davi and this band sound as though they had been playing together for years.
Davi is a classically trained singer, and the value of that training is that it enables him to cover a wide vocal range, turn the power on without damaging his vocal quality, or his throat, and produce that full rich sound, so necessary for invoking the spirit of Sinatra.
The production began with snippets from many of his screen performances, and then it was into Let's Take it Nice and Easy, which described the production well. Sinatra had a unique way of making his performances seem very relaxed, as though there was not effort at all to what he did. Davi captures this, chatting to the audience as though they were friends who had dropped in to see him at home, and he was definitely at home with these wonderful songs.
Come Fly With Me, A Foggy Day in London Town, a personal favourite, probably because I am a Londoner by birth, Moonlight in Vermont, Send in the Clowns, Pennies From Heaven, Luck Be a Lady Tonight, and then on and on the hits kept flowing, all impeccably sung by Robert Davi. Nobody complained that the seventy minute show overran by another thirty or forty minutes. Far from it, we were glad of his generosity and that of the musicians. It was not hard to tell how much enjoyment Davi was getting out of singing these unforgettable standards, every one a gem. That came across. This was a work of love, not work.
Robert Davi produced an album in 2011, with the same title as this production, and it received uniformly great reviews. It is still in print and so if you loved the show you might want to take a look in the ABC Shop, or on Amazon, to get a copy.