Vegas staple ‘Rat Pack Is Back’ checks into ballroom at Tuscany

By John Katsilometes

“The Rat Pack Is Back” cast is shown in a promotional photo. From left: Kyle Diamond, Chris Jas …“The Rat Pack Is Back” cast is shown in a promotional photo. From left: Kyle Diamond, Chris Jason and Drew Anthony. (Dick Feeney Productions)

The Kats! Bureau at this writing is the Quarantine Ballroom at Tuscany Suites. Wait, it’s Florentine Ballroom. But lighting consultant Matt Dillingham with the “quarantine,” quip, which refers to the new and temporary venue for “Rat Pack is Back.”

The tribute show has been elevated from the Copa Room on the casino floor to a second-level ballroom at Tuscany, where it can spread out and spread the love in its return Thursday night. “Rat Pack is Back” will now play to between 160-250 in the new room, with groups of up to four at each table. The venue has a real “corporate gig” vibe, in a room modified with black drapes and silver lighting scaffolds for a live stage show

“It’s as good as we can hope for,” producer Dick Feeney says. “We still have the dinner package. Our crowd isn’t traveling to Las Vegas right now, so we’ll see.”

The production returns with its cast of Chris Jason (Frank Sinatra), Drew Anthony (Dean Martin), Kyle Diamond (Sammy Davis Jr.) and Joelle Righetti (the comic showgirl). Lon Bronson is back as music director, presiding over a seven-piece band.

The production stands alone as the only ongoing tribute to the Rat Pack. Over the past 21 years, the show has bounced from Desert Inn, Sahara, Greek Isles, Plaza, Rio and finally Tuscany, where it opened in 2015.

Between Rio and Tuscany, “Rat Pack” was bound for Riviera in 2014, investing more than $100,000 in the old Versailles Showroom. Instead, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority stepped in, buying and later imploding the property for its convention-center expansion.

But during the Versailles renovations, Bronson and producer Dick Feeney unearthed some old-Vegas artifacts. Old video cassettes of “Splash,” and an audio cassette for show introductions.

“I have one, I think of Pat Cooper,” Bronson says, referring to the legendary stand-up. “We were trying to rebuild the stage, and sifting through the debris came up with a lot of Riviera history.”

Hanging with Bronson and Feeney is itself a history lesson. Somehow Feeney has been reminded of his 10-day run in “Evening At La Cage,” where he played Disco Dolly, in full drag, spending $6 on a dress at Goodwill for the role.

“The place roared,” Feeney remembered. “People were wondering what we were doing, putting the producer in the show. But it was great. Those were some times.”

Steal this

“Stealing Chaplin,” a based-in-Las Vegas story of the theft of Charlie Chaplin’s body, is something of a family project for Wayne Newton. No, the family does not steal Chaplin’s body. That’s left to a pair of British con men.

But Wayne’s wife, Kathleen and daughter Lauren are both cast in the film. Kathleen is a TV reporter and Lauren is the gum-chomping waitress Janice, best friend of the lead female character. Wayne plays a Vegas superstar named Wayne Newton, and some scenes were filmed last year at Newton’s Las Vegas estate.

The movie’s Las Vegas premieres is 7 p.m. Thursday at Century 16 Suncoast Theaters. It’s opens to the public Friday, running across 18 states.

The story is based on entertainment culture lore. The Chaplin body theft is an adaptation of the 1977 attempt by a couple of, I don’t know, exhumation entrepreneurs, who stole and held Chaplin’s body for ransom in Switzerland. The two were caught, of course. The refashioned story has shifted to Las Vegas, with a pair of British con men conjuring a plan to unearth Chaplin’s body.

Real-life brothers Simon and Doug Phillips play British con men Cal and Terry. British actor Peter Woodward and “Sopranos” cast member Al Sapienza are also cast.

Among the Newton family, Kat Newton is proud to note, “Lauren was actually the first one cast, then Wayne, and I was the last. But we are all in it.”

Perez’s ride

Franky Perez is on his second “Crossing The Great Divide” motorcycle and music tour of the U.S. The Vegas native and rocking singer/songwriter is developing a documentary about this project, in which he rumbles across the country playing health-care facilities, shut-down music venues, or event the occasional gas station/mini-mart.

Whither Fator?

As Vegas productions plow forward to reopening, a veteran headliner is still sorting out his future. Terry Fator says he’s still in talks to return a version of his show to an MGM Resorts International venue.

“MGM Resorts for sure,” he says. “I love being part of that family.” Fator spent a decade at Mirage, in the theater named for him, before his closing date fell in the COVID shutdown.

The nearby venue, 1 Oak Nightclub, has been renamed Capri (why not the Dunes Room, I ask). There has been some tire-kicking for a possible production/nightclub show, but not related to Fator, in that venue this month.

Tease it

Expect to hear of a large-scale production returning to VegasVille this week. Also, a live-music show expected to be sidelined until 2021 is working on a return next month.

When the Rat Pack gets together onstage, it’s magic. There are no card tricks and no rabbits popping out of hats, but when David DeCosta (Frank), Drew Anthony (Dean), and Kyle Diamond (Sammy) hit the stage, it’s there—the same magic that filled the room when these three icons performed at the Sands during the ’60s and ’70s. The 75-minute tribute show The Rat Pack is Back!takes audiences back to an era when the Strip had live music and entertainers knew how to work the crowd.

At the Tuscany, the Rat Pack banters back and forth with their adoring fans via jokes, skits and all their great songs, including “Volare,” “New York New York,” “My Way,” “That’s Amore,” “Old Black Magic,” “Fly Me To The Moon,” “Candy Man,” “Got A Lot of Living To Do” and “Memories Are Made of This.”

There is a seven-piece orchestra and don’t be surprised if some friends of the Pack show up and join in the fun.

By What’s On Staff on August 3, 2015

“You make me feel so young,” a Frank Sinatra stand-in sings in “The Rat Pack is Back.”

Baby, it’s mutual.

Even for those of us born after the swinging Las Vegas lounge era ruled by Frankie, Sammy, Joey and Dean, the touring tribute act now at Spirit Square is a satisfying trip back in time. Whenever and wherever you were at your most romantic, most silly, most relaxed and optimistic, this ersatz Rat Pack — four gifted actor/singer/comedians who are also credible impersonators of their respective legends — will take you there, in 90 entertaining minutes.

An opening montage of video clips from the glittering Vegas strip, circa 1960, suggests where those of a certain age are about to return: to the iconic Copa Room of the Sands hotel, “A Place in the Sun” now consigned, like so many of its entertainers, to the shadows of memory.

McGlohon Theatre, a historic sanctuary still haloed in stained glass, isn’t the perfect setting for a Rat Pack resurrection; when two of the guys go ga-ga over the untethered bosoms gracing one cabaret table near the stage, actor Les Lankhorst, the show’s solid Sinatra, reminds his fellows they’re in a house of God. And then he gets a good look for himself.

Host Blumenthal PAC must have had a reason for putting this production here, while booking “Late Night Catechism” — a touring one-nun comedy act, running Oct. 16-28 — in the wholly secular Booth Playhouse, but we’re scratching our heads.

Of course, by night’s end, when Lankhorst lands “My Way” with a studied balance of originality, imitation and homage, “The Rat Pack is Back” approaches a spiritual experience. The show’s producer Dick Feeney, director Ben Lokey and musical director Lon Bronson — clearly worship at the American pop altar, and every performer on stage embraces this material with an almost religious zeal. (The show’s splendid big band, sure to become more so as Bronson and the cast settle in, is The Tribute orchestra of Charlotte.)

If Bobby Mayo Jr. comes across as an overly cartoonish Dean Martin, and young Nicholas Brooks lacks Sammy Davis Jr.’s incomparable grace, all the guys can sing. And every song — even those, like “Mr. Bojangles,” that actually post-date the Rat Pack period — is one we’re delighted to hear.

The show builds momentum naturally, as each singer delivers a solo set; each gets interrupted, hilariously, by Joey; some do numbers together; and then all four friends assemble, around a well-stocked bar cart, for the upbeat finale.

Catch this show, kids. They don’t make ’em like this anymore.

Julie York Coppens
Charlotte Observer

Rat Pack Tribute Resuscitates Memories of Long-ago Stars

It really is true, sometimes, that you don’t know what you miss until it’s gone.

The Rat Pack, for example.

If you enjoyed their type of entertainment in the 1960s, you probably won’t realize how much unless you see “The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean” at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre.

They were, of course, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Dean Martin — four fun-loving, mega-talented guys who got together while filming “Oceans 11” in Las Vegas in 1960.

By day, they would shoot movie scenes; by night they would gather at the Sands Hotel and treat audiences to a free-wheeling, often-improvised show of music and comedy.

The movie was fun and popular in its day. But when Hollywood came out with two sequels a couple of years ago, it was apparent the whole Rat Pack thing was — in a word — dated. They’d lost their hipness.

But this new show at the Royal George — with four impressionists backed by a 12-piece band — works.

Just as the title says, it’s a tribute. The show re-creates a long-lost format of classic music and improv-type comedy.

“The Tribute to Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean” is a brisk 1½ hours (no intermission) of sheer entertainment.

Produced and directed by Dick Feeney, the show opens with the voice of God, from beyond the Pearly Gates, welcoming the Rat Pack back to do it “just one more time.”

The terrific band, which is non-union and drew pickets outside the theater on opening night, breaks into a medley of songs from the era.

Then four tuxedoed images emerge from the shadows off-stage, cigarettes ablaze.

After splitting off again, each man returns to do his thing. Mickey Joseph (Joey), opens with the kind of deadpan, self-deprecating humor that was Bishop’s trademark.

Kenny Jones then comes on as Sammy Davis Jr. incarnate, singing “That Old Black Magic.”

His jokes are vintage Sammy.

“You know,” he’s says, “I’m black, part Puerto Rican and a convert to Judaism.

“When I move into a neighborhood, everybody moves out.”

Yes, it was funny in its time — the segregated ’60s — and in the context of the now politically correct 2000s, it still is.

But his version of “Mr. Bojangles” is so well done that it tugs at your heart strings.

Dino — Dean Martin in the person of Bobby Mayo Jr. — follows, sloshing his martini glass to “That’s Amore!” And more.

And, finally, the Chairman of the Board, Brian Duprey as Frank Sinatra, brings on a sustained applause with “Chicago.”

There are more corny jokes and great songs — all close enough to the originals to make you long for the days when these master musicians and entertainers could be seen frequently in movies, on television and, if you were fortunate enough, live on stage at the Sands in Vegas.

Overall, the most talented of the faux foursome is Jones. He looks close enough to the real Sammy, being slightly built and wearing black plastic-rimmed glasses and lots of bling.

But more importantly, in Sammy’s vernacular, the cat can sing.

The show is reminiscent of the Rat Pack humor, too, although there’s too much reliance on Viagra-related jokes, which are obvious anachronisms.

And Dino, coming on sloshed, even if he’s a likable drunk, doesn’t quite resonate today, with so many drug and alcohol addictions and related societal problems.

But this “Tribute” is all about good-natured nostalgia and would rate PG-13.

We miss the Rat Pack more than we realize.

Don Snider
Chicago Star Review

Ol’ Blue Eyes, Deano And Sammy Would Be Proud

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery. If this is true, Deano, Sammy and Frank are probably sitting around the great bar in the sky, beaming with pride. The Rat Pack is Back, which plays Detroit’s Gem Theatre through Jan. 4, is one of the finest tribute shows in recent memory, and a virtual time portal, transporting audiences back to the golden age of the lounge act.

Tribute shows can be a dicey proposition. A poor impersonation can spell disaster for even the best of scripts, so it was with a sense of trepidation that I set out to see four performers tackle four of The Greats. To my surprise, Rat Pack left me smiling, singing and laughing spontaneously long after the curtain dropped – thanks, entirely, to a foursome of fantastic performers, and a great live orchestra.

The show is a near-perfect recreation of a Rat Pack lounge act at the Sands Casino, and from the outset, when Joey Bishop (Mickey Joseph) takes the stage to warm-up the crowd, the illusion is rarely broken. Joseph earns big laughs with vintage jokes, and sets a perfect tone for the evening.

But it’s when Dean Martin (Bobby Mayo Jr.) appears that the night really heats up. Mayo is so precise in his mannerisms, voice and comedic abilities, that it’s easy to believe he’s the genuine article. It’s obvious that he’s spent a great deal of time perfecting his impression, but he’s not alone in this respect, in this cast of characters.

Kyle Diamond cuts an impressive figure as Sammy Davis, Jr., and though his voice is not a spot-on match, his charm and his ability to work a room are.

As Frank Sinatra, Brian DuPrey is likewise excellent. His voice is such a perfect match to Ol’ Blue Eyes that it’s easy to forget you’re seeing an impression, and his understanding of the music is profound. He simply nails Sinatra’s stage presence.

All four performers carry the illusion beyond the music and into their on-stage interaction. Moreover, exceptional costuming and a well-rehearsed orchestra make the magic of time travel feel exceptionally real.

The Rat Pack is Back is a superb tribute to some of the greatest performers of all time, and an evening filled with delightful music and big laughs.

D. A. Blackburn
The Gem Theater

Theater Review: Rat Pack Spirit Enlivens Evening

The Rat Pack came back, all right, at least in spirit and in sound. A tribute to four guys – Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop – hit the stage Tuesday night at Robinson Center Music Hall in The Rat Pack Is Back!

And a crowd turned out in numbers large enough to make one forget it was an extremely cold night in bleak economic times. These “rats” were backed by a 12-piece orchestra that was onstage with the four featured performers, and the musicians provided fine accompaniment on classic songs that were probably favorites of everyone in the house.

The men cast as Frank, Dean, Sammy and Joey did fine in their roles, with Drew Anthony as Dean Martin leading this pack, as far as looks. Brian Duprey might not be mistaken for Sinatra if seen on a subway, but vocally, he was a crackerjack chairman of the board. Kenny Jones as Sammy Davis Jr. handled his singing and some decent smooth steps, but didn’t deliver any of the tap-dancing moves Davis was known for.

Mickey Joseph sounded more like Bishop than he looked, but his jokes were just cheesy enough to provide the appropriate counterpoint to the music. There was cutting up from the other two, but Sinatra played it straight, not even appearing until the second act after the show started with all four coming out, singing and swaying to “Where or When” in clouds of cigarette smoke. Joseph warmed things up with the humor before letting Sammy and Dino play off each other. There were even current topical jokes about Indian casinos and bankers, the latter of which really had the crowd roaring.

Dino cut loose on “That’s Amore,” and Sammy almost brought down the house with “What Kind of Fool Am I?” and “Mr. Bojangles.”

In the second act things got more serious as Sinatra delivered the goods, especially on “Fly Me to the Moon” and “My Way,” and he’s convincing enough that any fan of Ol’ Blue Eyes is going to go away feeling as though he’s gotten as close as possible to the Sinatra magic.

Jack Hill
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Taking Us Back

Remember the good old days of Hollywood? When men performed in tuxedos, and you could actually dance to the songs they sang? The time of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin, and Joey Bishop? The time when romance was hot? Well, they’re back!

Last night we had the pleasure of hearing the boys – just as if we had flown back in time and were in the audience of one of their legendary performances at the now demolished Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Yes, Celebrity Attractions has brought The Rat Pack is Back! to Little Rock, and you can enjoy the performance through Thursday at Robinson Center Music Hall.

This is a high-spirited and laugh-out-loud show. Songs such as “Mr. Bojangles” and “The Lady is a Tramp” are interspersed with comedic acts. These silly interludes, full of bad jokes (you know, the good ones), and Dean Martin sporting his underwear and an arrow made out of a plunger and hanger, had the audience erupting in laughter all night long. And their direct interaction with the audience did make you feel as if you were in a nightclub.

But the show really took off in the second act, when Frank Sinatra appeared on stage. The actor who portrays Sinatra, Brian Duprey, won $20,000 on Fox TV’s “Performing As” for his portrayal of “The Chairman of the Board.” And there’s no wondering why. His impressions are uncanny, and his renditions of “A Foggy Day (in London Town)” and “Fly Me to The Moon” (while sprinkled with the funny medlings of his cohorts) will give you chills.

We had a great time, and we could tell the rest of the audience in the packed Robinson Center Music Hall did, too. What a perfect diversion for today’s worries, and a excellent trip down memory lane.

From The Website, Hot In Little Rock

The Rat Pack Is Back Review

If someone were to build a more conventional musical theater piece around the Rat Pack, it would involve home movies by Jerry Lewis, boozy conversations with Humphrey Bogart, leading lady roles for Lauren Bacall (who named the group: “Aah, ya look like a pack o’ rats!”) and Shirley Maclaine and (if you wanted to tell the story until the nostalgia tour at its bitter end) Liza Minnelli. It would also involve awkward moments like the original name of this drinking-buddy club being The Clan, and various fisticuffs and name-callings, often involving the group’s fifth wheel, Peter Lawford.

But most Rat Pack revues (and there are several, this one being one of the two best-known) stick with the moment which crystallized the act-when they played the Sands Hotel at night while filming Ocean’s Eleven in Las Vegas by day. Even with that handy simple template, The Rat Pack is Back, however, is by no means a strict recreation of that time and place. Instead, the voice of God opens the show by inviting Frank, Sammy, Dean and Joey down to Earth for one last go-around. This allows the boys to acknowledge that they’re in New Haven (and make snide cracks about Milford). It allows them to sing post-’60s hits like “The Candy Man” and “New York, New York.” It allows them to make references to Viagra, Brokeback Mountain and Britney Spears-while otherwise maintaining old-world attitudes which assume the audience won’t mind them making fun of alcoholism, mental health, African-Americans and swishy gay. And apparently we don’t.

The classic routine when Sammy is presented to Frank as an award statuette from the NAACP has oddly morphed into Sammy being a Barack Obama doll. No less funny, to those who aren’t offended to their core. But the original Rat Pack, no less than Lenny Bruce, was about testing the limits of what constituted mainstream entertainment. What was the line, they posited, between a well-timed and rehearsed Vegas show and a bunch of pals playing public pranks on each other while drinking themselves silly? How far could they exaggerate the personas they’d been given by their fans and the gossip columnists, without becoming goonish and creepy?

As impersonators, the Rat Pack is Back cast treads a particularly fine line. They freely banter, but their songs are carefully studied and make the most of the 12-piece band behind them. When they recreate a well-documented real Rat Pack bit (Dean Martin crashing “Sam’s Song”) it’s with studious, respectful flair. And the singing is masterful, selling the songs anew in the familiar vocal styles of the people they’re trying to look like. I always cry when I hear “Mr. Bojangles” (it’s that thing about his poor dog dying that gets me), but I wasn’t sure I would cry at an impersonation. But I found this one (replete with bowler hat and moody lighting) more moving than, say, the rendition in Broadway’s Fosse.

The Frank, Brian Duprey, was a winner on the reality show Performing As, and does a fine job of acting pissy and pretentious when not warbling with impeccable Blue Eyes inflections. The Dean (Drew Anthony) was the most propulsive performer, setting the pace and the loose tone for the whole evening (which, by the way, runs less than two hours including intermission). The Sammy, Kenny Jones, is a little tall to accept the belittling he gets from the others: When they set out a half-size stool for him, it seems to become a whole different and distasteful sort of “you’re different from us”, since Jones is the same exact size as Duprey’s Frank. And unlike in the original Rat Pack, the addition of Joey Bishop (Mickey Joseph) can’t be discounted. He’s maybe the most valuable member of the troupe, doing a full stand-up routine before the others arrive and providing some surprise laughs throughout. Without him, considering how seriously aped the singing routines are, variety and fun would be seriously lacking. There wasn’t a Bishop along the previous time The Rat Pack is Back played the Shubert; I’m sure he was missed. Still no need for a Peter Lawford, though.

One of the most gracious parts of the The Rat Pack is Back is how the pack parades into the lobby post-show to palaver with the common folks on their way out. I had them all sign my copy of Shawn Levy’s book Rat Pack Confidential. “That’s the best book on the Rat Pack,” Kenny “Sammy” Jones informed me, then recommended Matt Birkbeck’s Deconstructing Sammy. So I told him about the trove of Sammy Davis Jr. anecdotes in Tim & Tom, the new dual bio of Tom Dreesen (the opening act for Sammy before spending 14 years on the road with Sinatra) and Tim Reid. The others stayed more in character, cooing over my 6-year-old daughter (Joey) or signing my book with an impatient flourish while looking elsewhere (Frankie)

Wait-I brought a 6-year-old to see the Rat Pack? Yes, after a friend told me she’d brought her son when he was 7, and that all the off-color stuff went right over his head. Young Mabel dug the music and all the physical humor (wild dancing, or the aerosol mist Joey spritzes on a pissed-off Frank while he sings “A Foggy Day”), and liked it better than the Beatles tribute she’d seen at the Shubert a few weeks earlier.

Christopher Arnott
New Haven Advocate

Famous Artists Bring Back Rat Pack

According to Player Magazine, “They were style with substance, swing with swagger, a non-stop party that everyone wanted access to.”

So, if you weren’t around for the genuine articles (think black ties and tuxedos, onstage drinking, scads of one-liners, powerfully-pumped big band sounds, and a vast array of what became musical “standards”), then the next best thing just might be the rousing stage show “The Rat Pack Is Back” as presented by Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series.

Backed by a dynamite 12-piece orchestra, four terrific performers take us back to some hot vocals, funny stage banter, seemingly spontaneous stage antics, and several spot-on impersonations of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Joey Bishop.

Although all four bear physical similarities, to greater or lesser extents, to the originals, the uncanny comparisons really materialize in the vocal treatments combined with physical mannerisms and verbal timing by Mickey Joseph (Bishop), Drew Anthony (Martin), Kenny Jones (Davis), and Brian Duprey (Sinatra).

With a nicely performed, front-of-curtain bit as an opener, an unnamed actor (too bad!) plays an elderly theater custodian who waxes on about the “good ole days”, and how the Rat Pack held entertainment sway throughout the swinging JFK era.

Around some dim lighting and shadows, we see the four performers make their entrance with a song. And almost as quickly as they entered, they’re gone, and the show officially begins, literally, bit-by-bit, as each of Bishop, Martin, and Davis have individual stage time.

Bishop, known as the only non-singer, holds the audience in laughter for several minutes of smartly done jokes and one-liner gags. Joseph looks enough and acts enough like Bishop to pull off the comedy in fine fashion.

Drew Anthony’s Martin is next up, replete with drink and cigarette, for some quick verbal repartee and fine turn of phrase with several songs, including the signature “That’s Amore”.

Things really heat up as the brightly-costumed and bejeweled Kenny Jones launches into some fine Davis material, a hot stint at the drum kit, and a heartfelt “Mr. Bojangles”.

After the intermission, Brian Duprey treats us to his Frank Sinatra, and it’s a killer! The physical similarity is there, but who cares? It’s the voice we’re listening for, and we get it with treatments of “All The Way”, “My Way”, “New York, New York”, among others. His “Me and My Shadow” duet with “Sammy” and their group version of “Lady Is a Tramp” are stunning performances in this terrific tribute show that pays duly earned homage to some legendary entertainers.

Tony Curulla
Syracuse Post Standard

Rat Pack Channels Memories Of The Great Ones

Imagine what would happen if God sent singers Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, and comedian Joey Bishop back to Earth for one last gig as The Rat Pack, the close circle of friends in the entertainment business that Sinatra cultivated in the early 1960s.

That’s the premise of The Rat Pack Is Back!, the touring version of the Las Vegas-based show of the same name that pulled into the Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts on Southbridge Street Thursday night for a two-night stay in the city.

The show stars Frank Sinatra (Brian Duprey), Sammy Davis Jr. (Kenny Jones), Dean Martin (Drew Anthony), and Joey Bishop (Mickey Joseph).

Trumpeter Lon Bronson, a Keene, N.H., native who has been a longtime mainstay on the Las Vegas music scene and has served as music director of the Vegas Rat Pack show, was also on board to front a 12-piece big band made up of some of the best musicians in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire. Sharp-eyed patrons in a crowd of close to a thousand Rat Pack fans spotted Fitchburg’s Rick Stepton, an alumnus of Buddy Rich’s big band, in the trombone section.

The band played a medley of “All the Way,” “It Was A Very Good Year,” “Hey There,” “That’s Amore,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and a few other hits recorded by Sinatra, Davis, and Martin as a black and white film montage of the real Rat Packers in Las Vegas played on the Hanover’s large screen. The three principal singers then joined forces for a romp on “Where or When” before yielding the stage to Mickey Joseph, who did a stand-up comedy stint as Joey Bishop. Joseph was hilarious; but his bawdy jokes, which had the audience in stitches, can’t be repeated in this family newspaper.

With a drink in one hand and a cigarette in the other hand, Drew Anthony seemed to be channeling Dean Martin’s stage persona as a boozy crooner as he sang “When You’re Smilin'” (or “When You’re Drinkin'” as Martin used to interpret it), “That’s Amore” and “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You.”

Kenny Jones leaped onstage in full Sammy Davis Jr. mode for a swinging version of “That Old Black Magic” and a beautifully rendered version of “What Kind of Fool Am I?” before teaming up with Edwards’ Dean Martin for a nice and easy take on “Sam’s Song” that “Yoshi Bishop” (a kimono-clad Hackett) interrupted for some more comedy schtick. Jones thern donned a derby and doffed his suit jacket for a heartfelt version of “Mr. Bojangles” the way that Sammy used to do it.

As Frank Sinatra, Brian Duprey dominated the second half of the show with some Chairman of the Board-influenced vocalizing on “I’ve Got the World on A String,” “The Best Is Yet to Come,” “I Get A Kick Out of You” and several other Sinatra classics, even as the other Rat Packers tried to crack him up. Dressed in a chef’s outfit, Hackett’s Joey Bishop tried selling food to audience members while Sammy and Dean materialized onstage as the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

Things turned serious for Duprey’s definitive version of Sinatra’s “My Way” before all four cast members teamed up for “New York, New York” and a rousing version of “Birth of the Blues” that drew two standing ovations from an appreciative crowd. If Massachusetts ever does get a casino, let’s hope that The Rat Pack Is Back! is the first show to hit the boards.

Peter Landsdowne
Worcester Telegram & Gazette

A Ride To ’60s Vegas

The Rat Pack Is Back” opened at the Scranton Cultural Center on Friday evening to a near-capacity and receptive crowd.

And why not? The show is a novelty of great tunes, hysterical comedy and even nostalgia.

In this age of reality television, the “The Rat Pack Is Back” is a tribute to a bygone era when entertainment was simply talent, lights and audience.

The show achieves the dauntless task of representing three giants that defined an entire tradition of Las Vegas-style entertainment that is practically a dying art form.

The Rat Pack’s history dates back to the assembling of entertainers who hung around with Frank Sinatra in 1960, namely, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop.

The show begins with “Joey Bishop,” portrayed by Mickey Joseph, coming out and warming up the crowd with a few hilarious jokes. Mr. Joseph is a master of timing and delivery.

Not only does he pick up the vocal inflections of Bishop, but his own unique style of delivery makes the old material seem brand new. The audience roared during his routine. He makes several appearances throughout the show where he portrays a Chinese detective and later a waiter. He is a true comedian.

As the 90-minute show unfolds, we are introduced to “Frank,” portrayed by Brian Duprey, then “Dean,” (Drew Anthony) and finally “Sammy” (Kenny Jones).

Each has his magic moments. The viewer only has to close his eyes to be transported to the Sands in Las Vegas.

Incidentally, this cast is the same cast from the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, where the show is currently running and being performed by understudies.

Mr. Jones has an uncanny mimetic sense for Sammy Davis Jr. His “Bojangles” is practically a carbon copy.

Mr. Duprey does a phenomenal job with “My Way.” He truly has captured the style of “ol’ blue eyes.”

And Mr. Anthony is a clone of Dean Martin. His look, mannerisms, voice and style are almost identical. He adeptly juggles a cigarette and drink in each hand as he croons “That’s Amore,” and “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Loves You.”

As for the ensemble, the chemistry is amazing. Most of the banter between the four is fresh and almost unrehearsed. What makes the show even fresher is the live orchestra.

The 15-piece ensemble is assembled by local musician extraordinaire Doug Smith and Lexington Entertainment under the Musical Direction of Lon Bronson. The music is the heartbeat of the show and it was amazing to learn that the group rehearsed for the first time from 5-7 p.m. before the show.

The show continues today, tonight, Sunday afternoon and evening.

Joseph F. Caputo
Scranton Times-Tribune

Four Cool Cats

People might immediately think Elvis when it comes to Las Vegas, but before The King, the city jived to the tune of four entertainers who won over audiences with their cool musical stylings and playful stage demeanor. During the 1960s, the Rat Pack – Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Dean Martin brought fame and recognition to the city as both an entertainment capital and gambling destination during their run inside the Copa Room at the Sands. Today, audiences can relive the revelry and timeless music of the Rat Pack era in the show The Rat Pack is Back at the Plaza.

“What happens in Vegas all started with the Rat Pack,” said the show’s producer Dick Feeney. “The real legend of Vegas – the cool cats, the drinking, the partying, the gambling, they epitomized it, and people still look at those days with fond memories.”

The Rat Pack is Back starts with a custodian mopping the stage and reminiscing about working at the Sands and hanging out with Frank and the guys.

“Boy those were the days. I sure do miss them,” says the custodian before walking off stage.

Video clips of vintage Vegas play on screens hanging on both sides of the stage, reminding everyone of where the city’s reputation as a glitzy and glamorous destination started.

The curtain opens and the 12-piece Lon Bronson orchestra gets the audience going with some toe-tapping music before performers portraying all the members of the Rat Pack enter the stage. They sing and dance, conveying all of the charisma and camaraderie of the real entertainers.

Dean takes center stage with drink in hand and fittingly sings, “Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.” His smooth voice and casual stage presence convey all the essence of the real performer. He pauses between songs for some playful joking with the audience.

“I’m on the whiskey diet,” says Dean, “in one week I lost four days.” Everyone laughs before he gets back to singing the Italian love song “That’s Amore” where he invites the audience to join in.

He does a smooth rendition of “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” before Sammy Davis Jr. joins him on stage to sing “That Old Black Magic” and “What Kind of Fool Am I.”

Just like the real Rat Pack, you never know who is going to come out on stage next. Sometimes the performers interrupt one another for some good old fashioned ribbing.

Later in the show, the four guys are joined by a beautiful woman portraying Marilyn Monroe. Wearing a red high-cut gown she sings “Happy Birthday” to a lucky guy in the audience.

Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean reunite on stage to belt out a few more classics including “Luck Be a Lady,” “Lady is a Tramp” and “New York, New York.” These four cool cats really know how to have a good time. By the end of the show you will too.

By Caroline Fontein

Swingin’, Singin’ And Zingin’

Gone are the days when a visitor to Sin City could grab a 25-cent breakfast in between slot pulls, catch a headliner at 3 a.m. in a smoke-filled lounge or simply bask in the bright lights of the always-shining neon marquees, which made it appear as if the sun had never set. The feel that once made Las Vegas the hippest place on Earth has changed—that is, unless you happen to take a stroll downtown to the Plaza where the swinging era has come alive once again, thanks to The Rat Pack is Back.

Unlike other tribute shows that have come and gone faster than the Nevada wind, The Rat Pack is Back has been playing for 11 years to the delight of more than a million people. Needless to say, this award-winning version has almost as much longevity as an Ol’ Blue Eyes standard and more legs than one of Dino’s favorite bar stools. Even though these showbiz legends have since left us, with the dead-on vocalizations and -studied mannerisms that this group of talented cast members deliver during each performance, you would swear that veteran Las Vegas producer Dick Feeney had somehow managed to channel their spirits. The production is funny, entertaining and even old-style Vegas hip. If truth be told, the only thing missing for the perfect trip back to the swinging, cocktail-guzzling ’60s nightlife is the 25-cent breakfast.

Robert Wiley-Brown
Spotlight Tributes

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