Heartthrob Luca Ellis Talks About Hoboken to Hollywood
Actor/singer Luca Ellis is having a breakthrough year portraying Frank Sinatra in the huge hit Hoboken to Hollywood at the Edgemar Center for the Arts, now extended to the end of January. Having portrayed Sinatra last year with The cast of Louis and Keely @ the El Portal, he is no stranger to the legend. It shows, for when you close your eyes, you feel you are listening to Sinatra himself. Handsome and confident, Ellis talks about the show, its eventual move to a larger space - one that has been confirmed by director Jeremy Aldridge, who also directed Louis and Keeley Live at the Sahara to great acclaim - and shares other insights about singers and the art of singing.
How much of Luca is in the portrayal of the Chairman of the Board?
I would ask the question, how much of the Chairman is in Luca's portrayal of a crooner or singer of popular song in the 1960s? My very first influence was Dean Martin, during my adolescence. I was about 7 years old. I can thank my mother for that, since she's the one who initially exposed me to this music. In my teens I found Harry Connick Jr. I was so impressed by his talent. Not only could this guy sing, but he's an exceptional musician! It wasn't until I turned 30 that I discovered Sinatra. I didn't even know I was a Baritone until I started listening to Frank. I quickly realized our voices were incredibly similar. So, I immersed myself in his recordings. For years I would listen and learn new tunes, and since I was singing professionally 4 to 5 nights a week. I had the perfect playground to become the well versed singer of American song I am today. In essence, Frank Sinatra was my mentor and I believe my predecessor to what has turned into a very rewarding and fruitful singing career. Once you learn to phrase like Sinatra, it's very difficult to sing a song in any other fashion. To sing with no inhibitions, fearlessly as if no one is listening. Yet you do all this in a very conversational manner, taking out all the theatrics and giving the most honest and often poignant interpretation of a song. I have not been given the privilege to say I'm playing the role of Mr. S. Hoboken to Hollywood is a tribute to the American Song Book. If delivering these songs in the highest light possible means delivering them in a style forged and innovated by Sinatra? So be it. Is Hoboken to Hollywood about Mr. S? That's entirely up to the audience member. Is Hoboken to Hollywood a love letter to Frank? Probably.
Tell me again how long you have been preparing to play this role and where you played him before.
When I started listening to Frank Sinatra, I had no intentions of playing him. I was merely curious about his style of singing. Being the legend that he is, I felt the need to check his work out. I'd heard him in passing, but it wasn't until I really started listening to Frank that I found the similarities in our voices a little over 6 years ago. The first time I ever played the Chairman was last year at the El Portal Theatre in North Hollywood. It was for the Holiday rendition of Louis and Keely Live At the Sahara. This took place after their run ended at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood. The second role came a couple of months later. This time I was playing the role of "Ol Blue Eyes" in Sandy Hackett's Rat Pack Show in Las Vegas. To end up playing the same character in an entirely different show a couple of months later at the actual Sahara Hotel and Casino, seemed a little serendipitous to me. All while the "Hoboken Four" (Producer Peach Reasoner, Musical Director Paul Litteral, Director Jeremy Aldridge and Singer/Actor Luca Ellis) were well on their way to developing a new hit show titled Hoboken to Hollywood. Sometimes things in life just come together.
What do you feel is the chief message of this piece? What do you want the audience to take away besides the enjoyment of the great songs?