Infinity Theater Company opens its 2011 summer season with a swinging tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes in My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra. Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, My Way invites its audience to take a trip down memory lane while reliving Sinatra’s remarkable five-decade career.
From a songbook of over 1300 tunes, My Way chooses fifty-four of Sinatra’s popular and not-as-popular songs sung by two men (Joseph Dellger and Alan Ostroff) and two women (Mary Jo Mecca and Anna Roberts Ostroff) in an intimate 1950’s “nightclub” setting. Decked out in fancy tuxedos and sparkly gowns, the four talented crooners present the songs in medleys such as “Losers”, “Broadway”, “Love and Marriage” and “Big Flirt.” To move the show along, the singers pause every now and then to supply the audience with some interesting tidbits about Sinatra’s life and to try their hand at a few slightly cheesy jokes.
My Way opens with the cast standing on the stage’s multi-level risers in front of a wonderfully talented three-piece band (David Libby, piano, Stephen Palko, bass and Gary Tillman, drums). Opening with a Sinatra classic “Strangers in the Night,” the four quickly demonstrate that they enjoy singing these songs and their good time spreads to the audience. No one tries to impersonate Frank Sinatra, rather, they each bring their unique style to his memorable songs. They swiftly move into the first set of tunes, which includes such audience-pleasers as “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” and “I’ve Got the World on a String.”
The sexy, sultry Mary Jo Mecca captivates the crowd with her powerful voice. She lights up the stage as she struts and slinks, belting out favorites like “L.A. is My Lady,” “I get a Kick Out of You,” and “All The Way.” Her poise and sex appeal is also evident in her onstage chemistry with the very talented Joseph Dellger.
Mecca and Dellger, as the “older” couple, both posess great voices and exhibit the natural ease and confidence of seasoned stage performers. This makes their songs, particularly their duets of “The Tender Trap” and “I’ve Got You Under my Skin”, the most enjoyable of the evening. Dellger, who bears a striking resemblance to Vice President Joseph Biden, has an electric smile and a smooth, rich baritone that easily fills the small venue. Highlights were his renditions of the Sinatra standards “New York, New York,” and “One for My Baby.”
Alan Ostroff and Anna Roberts Ostroff, who play the “younger” couple sing with tremendous energy and deliver solid performances. I particularly enjoyed Alan Ostroff’s clear, warm voice singing my personal Sinatra favorite, “Witchcraft.” Anna Ostroff’s vocals seemed nasal at times and occasionally she seemed to be singing in a register beyond her natural vocal range, such as in “You Go To My Head.” However, her renditions of “Something Wonderful Happens in Summer” and “It Was a Very Good Year” were lovely.
This isn’t a dance show, but director Matthew Schneider does manage to work in a few dance sequences. One in the first act, when the two couples danced together, was awkward and sluggish. The second act moved at a faster pace and had more natural choreography.
The second act also has the best ensemble singing of the show to the classic upbeat tune “That’s Life!” It was an inspired performance by the foursome and should have been the show’s closing number.
Overall, My Way contains some truly enjoyable performances and, of course, many wonderful songs spanning Sinatra’s career from the 1950s to the mid-1990s.
My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra
Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson
Book by Todd Olson
Directed by Matthew Schneider
Music Direction by David Libby
Produced by the Infinity Theater Company
Reviewed by Sabrina C. Daly
Running time: 1 hour, 30 mins with 1 intermission