Recommended *** TheoUbique Cabaret Theatre has chosen the ultimate in “cabaret” performers to highlight for their holiday production, one “Chairman of the Board- Frank Sinatra”. This production was conceived by Todd Olson and David Grapes and features dozens of songs written by America’s greatest writers for one of America’s greatest crooners. Directed by Fred Anzevino, who understands the “cabaret” concept in theatrics better than most with some sharp choreography by Maggie Portman and with Jeremy Ramey at the keyboards (also the musical director) along with his drummer (Kevin Brown) and his bass (Jake Saleh), this is a solid evening of old favorites.
The small storefront theater has been brought to a brick wall status with a signed picture of “Frank” on the back wall (behind the musicians). This could be what a club might have looked like back in Hoboken, New Jersey, but the idea is that we are taking a trip down memory lane and our four singers lead the way.
Most everyone knows that I lead the way in my praise for Anzevino and his work. His ability to find raw talent and create bright new concept shows is mind boggling. This show, however is not his creation. It is in fact a show that was written for West Coast, not Chicago. Younger audiences will probably not flock to see the show as many are only aware of Sinatra as a legend. Older people are perfect for the show.
While I enjoyed the two hours of roughly 50 Sinatra songs: “Strangers in The Night”, “Younger Than Springtime”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “I’ve Got The World On A String”, “The Lady Is A Tramp”, “Love and Marriage” and so much more with the finale being ” My Way” (of course). One after another, ringing bells and bringing back memories that our youth will never experience.
As I said earlier, Anzevino is unique in understanding the talent he finds and using them to the best advantage in the intimate No Exit Café that house this theatre company. I have enjoyed watching young actors like Christopher Logan grow. He is however not the key vocalist in this production. It is newcomer Carl Herzog who captures the feel and heart of the man and his music. He even has moments where if you close your eyes, you feel that “The Chairman” is in the building. Great find Fred!
While the show is about The MAN and his MUSIC, using couples is a strong way of showing the romance that Sinatra stood for. It is said that many of those who watched and heard him were conceived “to his singing”- who knows? That could be factual. The young ladies in this production are the lovely Kyrie Anderson who just finished her recent role in their “Blood Brothers”. The other female singer, Caitlin Boho is another newcomer to the stage. I see her as more of a “belter” than a crooner and think Anzevino might consider doing a special on Ethel Merman to capture the power that this woman brings to the stage. What a set of pipes!
If you love Sinatra and his music, you will certainly enjoy this production. The songbook is plentiful. The costumes and lighting glitzy (although the lighting did make Logan a little pasty) and the band terrific. “My Way… a Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” will be performed at No Exit Café located at 6970 N. Glenwood in Rogers Park ( just North of Morse Ave) through January 10th with performances as follows:
Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 7 p.m.
NO PERFORMANCES on December 24th and 25th
Tickets range from $29- $34 (students and seniors- $5 discount) and can be purchased by calling 773-347-1109 or online at www.theo-u.com
Dinner can be PRE-ordered at $25 and is Italian all the way (meat and or veggie) check the website. Looked great to me. Drinks are available and for those of you unfamiliar with this venue, your wait staff might be the performers. Parking is on th street, some metered, some not and on the website you can find a parking lot where they will shuttle you to the theater at no charge. The Red Line is the best bet as the Morse Avenue stop is right there.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “My Way … A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra”