BWW Review: MY WAY at Connecticut Cabaret Theatre
Start spreading the news; the best musical tribute to Frank Sinatra that you will ever experience is now running in Berlin, CT, at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre. I had the pleasure of seeing MY WAY on Saturday, July 15, a production of first-rate quality, characteristic of all shows at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre, directed by Kris McMurray who continues to bring out the best in all his performers. This show successfully provides the retro ambiance of an old time club, encompassing the pleasant feel of the evening.
Backed by the Hoboken Three, a phenomenal jazz band consisting of Tim Urso on percussion, Jamie Sherwood on guitar and bass, and Musical Director TJ Thompson on piano, the always entertaining high talented performers Jon Escobar and Kaite Corda provide the vocals, sometimes singing together in harmony, other times going back and forth verse for verse, and also each taking entire songs solo, the decisions as to who sings what and when working out perfectly each time, maximizing the quality of over fifty Frank Sinatra songs, some performed in their entirety, with others seamlessly incorporated into medleys.
MY WAY, conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson has a unique blend of theatrical elements and musical tribute features, giving the audience an original kind of experience that brilliantly blurs the lines between the two types of shows, bringing forth the best in both. Jon Escobar and Kaite Corda play fictional versions of themselves, putting on a musical tribute to Frank Sinatra, while providing fascinating information and stories about him, including some of Sinatra's interesting and humorous quotes. Jon and Kaite have such strong on stage chemistry and acting talent that the audience can only speculate as to how much of their back and forth dialogue was originally scripted and how much was either created just for them, or spontaneously improvised. Either way, their dynamics provide the audience with laughs and intrigue as Jon and Kaite's enthusiasm and positive energy radiates forth from the stage, bringing a high level of enjoyment to the audience, a feeling that matches the fun that Jon and Kaite are clearly having on stage.
Some of the songs feature some choreographed dance that Jon and Kaite perform together in excellent coordination and synchronicity. At times when only one of them is singing, the other remains in character, providing facial expressions in reaction to the one singing. Sometimes, the fourth wall is broken, inviting the audience to sing along. There are other songs where the focus is more contained on the power of the music, like on "It Was a Very Good Year," in which both seated, Kaite and Jon sing verse for verse, providing a powerfully haunting feel that draws the audience deeply into the song.
Sinatra favorites like "Strangers in the Night," "New York, New York," and "Summer Wind," are performed among other great Sinatra songs like "Young at Heart," and "I Only Have Eyes For You," that are more well known by other artists. Regardless as to whether the song was one of his more popular songs or lesser known, every song sounded like a huge hit, the way it was performed in this production, giving the audience an even greater appreciation for Frank Sinatra and the enormous impact he had and continues to have on music. This show clearly follows Frank Sinatra's advice for success, "Sing good songs."
I highly recommend MY WAY which is scheduled to continue to run at the Connecticut Cabaret Theatre in Berlin, CT every Friday and Saturday night at 8:00 PM through August 5. This is an absolute must see for Frank Sinatra fans, with a level of quality high enough to turn casual Sinatra fans into serious ones.