Review: The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas

5 star rating
Nicola Emmanuelle's Ella Fitzgerald is a welcome addition to this established format, giving a rejuvinating boost to what is still a hugely entertaining and evocative show.
The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Image: Flying Entertainment & TRH Productions



Closes here: Saturday 3 February 2018

Author:
Mitch Sebastian

Director:
Mitch Sebastian

Cast:

Stephen Triffitt (Frank Sinatra)

Nigel Casey (Dean Martin)

Ashley Campbell (Sammy Davis Jr)

Nicola Emmanuelle (Ella Fitzgerald)


And, as The Burrelli Sisters:


Rebecca Parker

Amelia Adams-Pearce

Joanna Walters


Plus The Rat Pack Big Band


Synopsis


The Rat Pack Live From Las Vegas returns with a celebration of Ella Fitzgerald.


Experience Frank, Sammy and Dean performing at the famous Sands hotel with the fabulous Burrelli Sisters and The Rat Pack Big Band.


Hit follows hit including pack favourites The Lady is a Tramp, Mr Bojangles, That's Amore and I've Got You Under My Skin.


ActDrop reviews


Peter Brown

Performance date: Monday 15 January 2018
Review star rating image for 3 stars

During the festive period, the basic Rat Pack format was packaged as Christmas With The Rat Pack - you can read our review of that here (it contains some background which is not repeated below).


Now, the tinsel, baubles and Christmas tree of the festive season have been put away and the festive songs set-aside for another year.


That means this deservedly popular show morphs back - more or less - to its original format.

Nicola Emmanuelle as Ella Fitzgerald in The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas

Nicola Emmanuelle as Ella Fitzgerald, photo by Betty Zapata


But an extra character joins The Rat Pack trio of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr in a celebration of the legendary voice of Ella Fitzgerald, known around the showbiz world as 'The First Lady of Song' (or, alternatively, Queen of Jazz, or Lady Ella).


Nicola Emmanuelle confidently assumes the formidable mantle and impresses enormously with her lusciously distinctive vocals.


The celebration of Ms Fitzgerald pertains to the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1917 (she died in 1996).


Somewhat disappointingly, though, we have to wait until the second half of the show before Ms Emmanuelle hits the stage, and we don't get nearly enough of this wonderfully melodic singer whose voice does indeed portray the jazz legend's unique singing style to astonishing effect.


To be strictly fair, her role is really designed as a feature of the show rather than a major part of it, but Ms Emmanuelle's evocative performance certainly leaves one hungering for more, especially if you're an ardent Fitzgerald fan as many in the audience seemed to be.


Stephen Triffitt assumes the chair as leader of The Rat Pack, Frank Sinatra, and gets the lion's share of the stage and the songs.


Mr Triffitts's physical appearance is certainly uncannily similar to the famous singer and his vocal style does replicate Sinatra's in a striking, almost unnerving way.


Moreover he was in matchless form, giving us superb renditions of My Kinda Town and Angel Eyes in particular, as well as delivering the massively popular New York, New York and My Way with effortless precision.


Of course the whole purpose of this show is to bring 'back to life' the vocals and personalities of three world-renowned singers from the past.


And that means that the performers are acting as impersonators, but one should never doubt their enormous individual talents in the singing department - each of them could easily sell-out any auditorium on their own.


As in Christmas with The Rat Pack, the band is in top-notch form under the excellent direction of the affable Matthew Freeman, who gets drawn-in occasionally to the (sometimes rather limp) on-stage banter.


Largely led by a first-rate brass section, The Rat Pack Big Band packs an enormous musical punch which sounds like a far bigger ensemble at times, and there were a couple of instances where the volume seemed to fight the vocals a touch.


That's a very minor gripe, given that this is a live show and not a studio recording where performances can be remixed to perfection at leisure.


In fact, comparing my recollections of the Christmas show, the overall quality and clarity of the singing on this occasion seemed even better than I heard before.


Though I longed to hear more from Nicola Emmanuelle, her welcome addition to this established format gives a gorgeously rejuvenating boost to what is still a hugely entertaining and evocative show.



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