BWW 'Dinner and a Show' Review: Eagle Theater's MY WAY Tribute to Frank Sinatra
First stop Graziano’s Ristoranti in Waterford Works. Chris & Joe Graziano have been cooking the sauce for almost 30 years at this landmark lunch/ dinner club and doing things “Their Way”. Murals of Frank Sinatra greet guests before entering the doors. Like stepping back into 1940, this intimate family owned business in a Sinatra haven. “Dad was crazy about Frank” says daughter Chris as we are surrounded by photos of Ole’ Blue Eyes and many other Italian celebrities including Tony Bennett, Paul Anka, etc.
We were treated warmly by the owners and a friendly staff as we enjoyed homemade dishes to rival Italy itself. Starting with an Italian style salad for two with fresh imported provolone bullets, roasted eggplant and tomatoes served with garlic bread. Appetizers included bacon wrapped shrimp and scallops served with horseradish dill dip and mussels in a spicy white sauce with blue cheese. Our homemade entrees were Chicken Pizzuto; tender breaded chicken cutlet topped with lump crabmeat and caramelized onions with penne in a luscious spicy sherry cream sauce. My dinner guest enjoyed Veal Capri; veal cutlet topped with shrimp & scallops with penne and that amazing spicy sherry cream sauce.
Graziano’s Ristoranti is located at White Horse Pike and Garfield Ave. in Chesilhurst, NJ. For reservations and more information: www.grazianosristorant.com or call 856.768.4177
The Eagle Theatre’s My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra
The Eagle Theatre continues its main-stage season with a three week run of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra, a collection of songs made famous by the man fondly remembered as “The Voice.”
Well on its way “this little theater that could” is passionately ran by two very ambitious and creative Artistic directors; Ed Corsi and Ted Wioncek III. The Eagle Theatre was recently honored with 18 Perry Award nominations in various categories for their productions of Pippin, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Chicago and RENT. The Perry Awards are judged and presented by the New Jersey Association of Community Theaters.
I caught up with Ed Corsi, Director of My Way, who shared with me that he had always loved Sinatra’s music and that whole era. Once deciding to take on the project and after much research Corsi went with a 1940’s cabaret setting for this “very classy, slick music.” The geographic setting for a Sinatra piece is also appropriate, as Hammonton NJ is noted as having the highest percentage of Italian-Americans in the Garden State.
Eagle’s tribute to Sinatra brings a smile to fans of Ole’ Blue Eyes. The very creative direction of mounting this in the round made for an intimate evening of 50 plus songs once sung by the famous male crooner. Some songs were presented as solos and duets. Others were shared by all four in the form of medleys that connect a particular theme. Overhead close circuit black and white screens capture a unique “live” visual of the evening. The talented cast effectively engages the audience with each song and shares short Sinatra stories and quotes.
A sultry live four-piece band directed by the talented Jason Neri accompanies the vocalists including Brian Bortnick, Eric Cecilio, Nikki Giapoutzis and Jennie Knackstedt.
Picking some favorites was not an easy task, but here are some of my favorite numbers from the group; “All The Way”- Nikki, “Dream” – All, “Drinking Again” – Brian, ”Fly Me To The Moon” - Brian and Eric, “Hang My Tears out to Dry” – Jennie, “I Only Have Eyes For You” – All, “The Lady is A Tramp” – Eric, “Love and Marriage” - Nikki and the guys, “My Funny Valentine” –Jennie, “My Kind of Town”- Eric, “New York New York”- All, “One For My Baby”- Eric, “That's Life”- Eric and company, “Someone to Watch Over Me” Nikki, and “ When I was 17”(Brian with his guitar)