It was 65 years ago that Ol’ Blue Eyes made his British debut and he is back at the same venue – the London Palladium – in David Gilmore’s slick, sophisticated and succinctly titled Sinatra: The Man and His Music, a show which manages to be both ingenious and entertaining.
In the centenary year of his birth, this lavish tribute show dispenses with the use of a nimble impersonator and puts Sinatra himself centre stage, superimposing carefully restored 3D footage of his performances on giant screens on to the exemplary sound of a 24-piece orchestra, backed by a company of 20 highly talented singers and dancers, to celebrate one of the world’s greatest entertainers.
The show tells the story of Ol’ Blue Eyes from his struggling formative years using unseen footage, rare interviews and personal films and photographs to give an illuminating insight into a musical legend. It covers the star’s close friendship with JFK, his uncomfortable denial of involvement with the Mafia, his membership of that exclusive club The Rat Pack, with appearances by Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Of the women in his life, we see lots of snapshots of the beloved Ava Gardner and later Mia Farrow, but little of his first wife Nancy, although we do get to see his three kids Tina, Nancy and Frank Jnr. The text also provides a potted history of the century in which he lived.
Sinatra’s smooth and seductive voice with an edge of mischief had the ability to locate the melancholy and emotional depth in an apparently cheery song and his distinctive delivery has never been equalled or bettered. The show features more than 30 tunes including From This Moment On, It Wasn’t Very Good Year, All of Me, Pennies From Heaven, I’ll Be Seeing You, I Got You Under My Skin, In the Still of the Night, You Make Me Feel So Young, The Lady Is A Tramp, Ol’ Man River, Luck Be a Lady, That’s Life and Fly Me To The Moon, which never soared so high. My two favourite moments in the show were his great delivery of New York New York, an eye-opening exhibition of Las Vegas-style razzmatazz complete with high-kicking chorus girls brandishing ostrich plumes, and his trademark version of My Way. A truly memorable number in which Frank reached the peak of his powers.
The first night performance ended with his daughter Nancy Sinatra and statuesque grand-daughter Mandy coming on stage to give an emotional thank you to the audience, performers and producer Karl Sydow. “Two great legends!” exclaimed Nancy, “The Palladium and Frank. My dad loved London and it’s clear London loves him.”
This exhilarating, multi-media tribute show is bound to give a lot of pleasure to a lot of people
Sinatra: The Man and His Music
Runs until October 10
Box office: 0844 412 2704