BWW Review: A NIGHT AT THE SANDS Immerses You Into the Rat Pack Reign in Las Vegas
Ever since I was dazzled by Creating Arts Studios production "Thenardiers Inn" which well-deservedly went on to win the 2015 Hollywood Fringe award for best cabaret and variety show, I wait with anticipation for their next totally immersive theater experience, knowing it will be like no other. It was true for their "The Experiment Cabaret" and I was not disappointed when I walked into the world famous Sayers Club in Hollywood, transformed into the Copa Room at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas during the reign of the Rat Pack in their current celebratory piece entitled "A NIGHT AT THE SANDS" - A Vegas Musical Cocktail With an L.A. Twist.
You are greeted at the door by costumed characters from the show, with Lucy working the line to try and get a seat inside. Walking in, the room is hopping with Ricky Ricardo (Musical Director Dan Sugi) banging away on his conga drum and keyboards while Playboy bunnies escort you to your seat. It's just the place to grab a drink at the bar (age 21+ for this show) and sit back to enjoy the hip atmosphere, especially when Ella Fitzgerald drops in to warm the room with her soulful stylings.
As always, the cast works the room by moving around within the audience, often calling upon those seated in front to come up onstage and participate in numbers. Or perhaps you will be lucky enough to have Marilyn Monroe sit on your lap! Whatever way you are asked to play along, just go with it.
With a rockin' house band that expertly performs all types of music, the show begins with Ricky pounding out "Babalu" before introducing Sammy Davis, Jr. (J.F. Thomas) whose heartfelt rendition of "I Gotta Be Me" was enhanced by brilliant lighting which highlighted every act perfectly. He was then joined by the Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra (James Brewster), for a duet on "Me and My Shadow." Their cheeky banter continued throughout the production, making the show feel all the more real and spur-of-the-moment.
Frank admits he had no luck at the tables and then called on audience member Claire to blow on his dice, which led him into a rousing rendition of "Luck Be a Lady" accompanied by the sexy Copa Room Girls. Frank introduced Dean Martin (Paul Elia), appropriately perched on the bar in the back of the room, ever-present drink in hand. Totally resembling the fabled singer, Elia got the audience laughing with his rendition of "When You're Drinking" rather than smiling, and then "Bourbon From Heaven" instead of pennies!
All three of these impersonators have mastered the posing, smirking, sex appeal and attitude of the stars. And when they are joined by Joey Bishop (Max Lichtig) and Peter Lawford (Justin Klosky), the Rat Pack show takes off!
Soon the boys learn from cigar-wielding Swifty Lazar (Lee Marshall) that the casino's been hit and they're taking the fall, but with the help of their entourage they just may cash out without giving it all to the house. Making appearances to help the boys are Shirley MacLaine (Elizabeth DelloRusso), Janis Joplin (Dani Inks, who joins in from the audience, identifying herself as Pearl before her joyfully rockin' "A Piece of My Heart"), Marilyn Monroe (Katie Self), Tina Turner (Adrienne Brown), Lucy Ricadro (Choreographer Julia Lisa), Johnny Cash, Cher (Cassandra White), Audrey Hepburn (Haynie Walker) and Ella Fitzgerald (Hadiyyah Smith), each of whom entertains to perfection. And of course the Copa Room Girls dance the night away atop the bars around the room, dressed as either feather-adorned Showgirls or Playboy Bunnies. Even Meyer Lansky (Jack Stroud) can't stop the fun with his demands for money from the boys!
So sit back and perhaps drink away your troubles as you descend into the sex, power and stylings of old-school Vegas in this original, fictional tribute to legends of entertainment that is an immersive, interactive experience that will transport you back to the Rat Pack Glory Days. I guarantee you will be ready to sing along with the boys and their entourage to "That's Life" which sums up their whole outlook on dealing with whatever comes their way. As Frank Sinatra says, "We are going to LIVE till we die" so let's just party on!
CAC Studios presents "A NIGHT AT THE SANDS" - A Vegas Musical Cocktail With a L.A. Twist, written and directed by Shannon Sukovaty (who portrays one of the Showgirls). Performances take place at The Sayers Club, 1645 Wilcox Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028, through December 19, 2015 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00pm. Show runs for two hours with one intermission. Age 21 and up only. Admission is $40 per seats with VIP Reserved Seating Available. Tickets via phone (310)804-0223 or online at http://www.cacstudios.com/anightatthesands
The Rat Pack
The Copa Room Girls
Rikcy Rcardo and the Copa Girls get the place cockin'
Tina Turner ((Adrienne Brown) rocks the house
Cher (Cassandra White)
"That's Life" - Photo by Shari Barrett