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BWW Review: THE RAT PACK LOUNGE at The Cortland Repertory Theatre Downtown is a Wonderful Escape Back in Time

BWW Review: THE RAT PACK LOUNGE at The Cortland Repertory Theatre Downtown is a Wonderful Escape Back in Time
L-R Marcus Goldhaber, Matthew Krob, Blaire Baker, Jason Plourde and Scotland Newton in Cortland Repertory Theatre's production of The Rat Pack Lounge. Photo by Eric Behnke.

Cortland Repertory Theatre ended its Summer season with The Rat Pack Lounge at their lovely downtown location. The jukebox musical - showcasing those familiar hit tunes sung by the legendary Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin - is written by James Hindman and Ray Roderick with musical arrangements by John Glaudini. Director Mark Reynolds and his cast took the audience back in time.

The Rat Pack Lounge literally brings Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin back to life. The concept is that the three musical legends visit a man in crisis at the bar he inherited from his father known as "The Rat Pack Lounge."

It is New Year's Eve and Vic Candelino (Marcus Goldhaber) is ready to end his life because he never became a star. Frank Sinatra once told him he would be a great singer someday. God sends Sinatra and his two pals to the bar by God to save Vic - in the bodies of bar customers and staff. Now that Rat Pack has arrived at The Rat Pack Lounge will Vic be saved? The music, the personalities, and the teachings of these three legends might be just what Vic needs as his world comes crashing down.

Unfortunately, the book is flawed because it feels like two plays in one. The first act features Frankie and his pals coming to save Vic and the bar filled with Rat Pack memorabilia (Adam Crinson provides the wonderfully detailed set design) and then the second act features The Rat Pack and Vic performing a show that what would have been seen in a 1960s casino lounge. That being said, the music, comedy, and acting were consistently strong in both acts. The actors were clearly thoroughly enjoying their time on the stage, which made the production very entertaining for the audience.

Marcus Goldhaber gave a fabulous performance as hopeless and lost Vic. His rendition of "Come Fly with Me" is sung intentionally off-key and it is both hilarious and memorable. His rendition of "My Way" stood out at the end of Act One, and he dazzled in other songs such as "It's a Wonderful World" and "I've Got the World on a String." His comedic chops helped him sell the performance.

Matthew Krob portrayed Dean Martin in the body of a driver named Jeorge Rodriques and his performance was probably the most memorable, believable, and consistent of those that portrayed the three legends. Krob effortlessly landed every joke and played off his fellow castmates perfectly. He charmed in musical numbers such as "Volare," "That's Amore," "For Me and My Gal," and many more.

Jason Plourde played Frank Sinatra in the body of a top real estate agent named William Sanders. Plourde, no doubt, has a fabulous voice and sang many of the songs with a lot of passion and charm. His vocals were clear, powerful, and passionate in numbers such as "Nice 'N' Easy," "You Make Me Feel So Young," "One for My Baby," "High Hopes," and other numbers showcasing him and his pals. However, unfortunately he did not consistently deliver a believable performance as the musical legend.

Scotland Newton portrayed Sammy Davis Jr., albeit in the body of the Rat Pack Lounge bartender Bobby Goldberg. Newton delivered a very energetic performance and exhibited plenty of comedic timing and charm in his musical numbers. Newton definitely can sing and dance, but his portrayal of Sammy Davis Jr. was not believable. His acting was, in fact, rather disappointing and inconsistent. However, he did deliver of standout rendition of "What Kind of Fool Am I?"

Blaire Baker portrayed Angie, an angel representing the kind of woman that Rat Pack loved. She comes to earth in the body of real estate agent Katherine Kerr. Baker showcased her confidence as she flaunted Orli Nativ's seductive and glitzy costumes. Her line delivery was impeccably clear and passionate and her facial expressions and chemistry with her fellow cast members were memorable as well. Baker's vocals, may not have been the most powerful I have heard, but they were fun and spunky and just right for musical numbers such as "Too Close for Comfort," "Angel Said," and "I Love Being Here With You." Her confidence and personality took center stage.

On-stage musicians helped bring the music to life under the musical direction of Joel Gelpe. They interacted with the actors every so often and it added to the energy level of this fun show.

Overall, The Rat Pack Lounge is a typical jukebox musical where you go to listen to the music of legendary performers. So, if you love the music of The Rat Pack, then this was the show for you. Cortland Repertory Theatre brought many of their loyal audience members back in time as fabulous music was performed by some very talented singers.

Running Time: Approximately two hours with one fifteen-minute intermission.

The Rat Pack Lounge played from August 29, 2018 through September 8, 2018 at Cortland Repertory Theatre's Downtown location at 24 Port Watson St, Cortland, New York. For tickets and information on the upcoming fall season and events, click here.

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From This Author Natasha Ashley