by: Linda Amiel Burns
Frances Hill, the Artistic Director of Urban Stages, quotes Nietzsche in the Program saying, “without music life would be a mistake.” Well, there certainly has been many musical presentations going on this past month at the Urban Stages Theater in the 2015 Winter Rhythms Series (12/2-12/13) with 19 shows in 11 days, and 169 performers participating!
On 12/12/15, Sinatra’s actual 100th birthday, Stephen Hanks, produced and hosted “Happy Birthday, Ol’ Blue Eyes: The Frank Sinatra Centennial Celebration” at Urban Stages with Jon Weber, the Music Director, and a terrific cast of performers: Alexis Cole, Tony Babino, Joshua Dixon, Marcus Goldhaber, Kristoffer Lowe, Marissa Muldar, Bill Zeffiro. The show was divided into several areas of Sinatra’s career, beginning with the early 1940’s when he sang with the Big Bands. Kristoffer sang the haunting “All or Nothing At All” recorded with Harry James. The Tommy Dorsey years was represented with Marissa singing “Polka Dots and Moonbeams and Bill Zeffiro told a story of playing at a piano bar and Sinatra was there. When he heard him play “This Love of Mine” he said to Bill as he was leaving, “I wrote that song.”
Next were the MGM years from 1945-1948 where he made six musical films. Marcus Goldhaber sang the tender “I Fall In Love Too Easily” from Anchors Away, and Marissa “Time After Time” from It Happened in Brooklyn. In the 1950’s, Sinatra was in films from Broadway shows such as Guys & Dolls, where he played Nathan Detroit. Marcus sang a song written for the movie “Everlovin’ Adelaide” and Joshua performed “Luck Be a Lady,” that Sinatra didn’t sing in the film, but was associated with him throughout his career. Pal Joey was a big hit and a perfect vehicle for him and Bill surprised the audience with “Lady Is A Tramp” having written clever lyrics that paid tribute as in “Sinatra is a Champ.” Another highlight of the show was Joshua’s strong and well-acted “Soliloquy” from Carousel.
Sinatra in the 1960’s had many hits from the pop charts and TV Specials. Tony sang a swinging rendition of “That’s Life” asking the audience to sing along. Alexis, at the piano sang, played a fine Jobim medley from A Man and His Music. Sinatra retired for a few years saying that he was tired of performing and singing the same songs. When he made his “comeback” in the 70’s he found new songs to record such as the Beatles “Something” by George Harrison and “You and Me (We Wanted It All” by Peter Allen, both sung by Kristoffer.
The show closed with a fabulous song written and sung by Tony expressing a sentiment we all have, “I Wish I Could Sing Like Sinatra.” The entire cast led the audience in a “Happy Birthday” sing-a-long and we all joined in on “New York, New York,” one of his biggest hits. Of course, there is only so much that can be covered in a 90 minute show, but kudos to Stephen Hanks for well put together tribute to one of the world’s greatest entertainers who enjoyed a six decade career that covered every area of show business.
Sinatra’s accomplishments will be celebrated forever and it is best to close with his famous quote, “May you live to be 100 and may the last voice you hear be mine!”
Photos: Maryann Lopinto
For info on Urban Stages, Visit: http://urbanstages.org/