Christmas With The Rat Pack

In the early 1960s the Rat Pack quintet (then including Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop) performed in the Sands Casino in Las Vegas. The shows were semi-improvised affairs with sketches, drinks, cigarettes, repartee, a little dancing and, when they weren’t fooling around, some of that famous singing. It’s the three ‘leaders’ of the group; Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. who feature in this show. They are joined by the fictionalised Burelli Sisters adding glamour and texture to classic songs and more opportunities to create depth.

Craic, capers, crooning and Christmas

After appearing at many West End theatres, The Rat Pack Live returns to the Theatre Royal Haymarket in its guise as a dreamy distillation of what one of those 1960’s nights might have looked like. In the New Year, Ella Fitzgerald will join Frank, Dean and Sam to honour the centenary of her birth. The theatre’s Chairman claims in the programme that they will be “introducing this wonderful double bill of shows to a new audience”.

It kicks off with a whisper as Sinatra sings three solos. It’s fundamentally just a gig with a band at the top of a flight of stairs with a leader at the piano. it’s a little disappointing because you feel like you’re just there to ‘watch the hits’. Initial reactions are that it’s more ‘Sandals Resort’ than ‘Sands, Las Vegas’ – essentially showmen mimic very famous voices. But those voices are good. Garrett Phillips as Frank certainly hits the heights in finding Ol’ Blue Eyes’ tone and timeless ease and can hold a note to make you check your watch. A spark of life is injected by David Hayes (Davis Jr.) who adds bounce and all-round movement to the undoubtedly impressive crooning of Phillips. Hayes’ tone seems sweeter than his real-life counterpart and his Mr. Bojangles is more a breath of fresh air than a mere parroting. Nigel Casey (Dean Martin) begins with classics such as That’s Amore but doesn’t really hit his stride until late into Act One. He is the wittiest of the trio and the funniest line of the night comes with a comment about his microphone cable.

The banter which was essential to the Packs’ original synergy feels dated and in Scrooge-like obstinacy often failed to raise even a smile from this reviewer despite the frequent uproar throughout the rest of the theatre. Perhaps an older generation tapped into the humour of their youth, and this reviewer was not sufficiently captured by the nostalgia. The dialogue is an amalgam of actual exchanges adapted and edited for clean, rehearsed repetition. Mitch Sebastian certainly dialled down some of the racial content. One now-shocking piece of dialogue available from recordings asked Davis Jr. to smile so that the audience could see him better. He is however referred to as ‘African queen’ in a camp/racial joke so the issue isn’t dodged, just repackaged. Repackaged is the watchword for this show, everything you expect, no more; no dramatic or biographical elements, just craic, capers, crooning and Christmas. It just depends how fulfilling you find this. The individual elements are brilliant – the three leads, the superb band, the Christmassy songs. In addition, the Burelli Sisters are a beautiful touch of class with dancing and singing powers far beyond their ‘girl on the arm’ function.

Further Ebenezerising could include the stage-y light climaxes and pose-striking to conclude numbers and the life-threatening microphone cables that trail behind each singer which require ushering and flicking around like dog-leads. And the girls somewhat show up the boys but in the 1960’s setting are treated like scenery. It’s also the kind of show where audiences struggle to know when to clap and whether or not they can join in. These distractions carried less significance as the show gathered momentum and the interaction on stage sparked the energy that lifted it out of a parade of the hits.

But really, who can resist a finale of Mack The Knife/That’s Life/Have Your Self A Merry Little Christmas from the Chris Cringle of Croon?  

Reviews by George Meixner

Theatre Royal Haymarket

Christmas With The Rat Pack

★★★
The Ambassadors Theatre

13 the Musical

★★★
Theatre503

No Place For A Woman

★★★★
King's Head Theatre Pub

Adam & Eve and Steve

★★★★
Lyric Theatre

Thriller Live

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Christmas with the Rat Pack is still the coolest party in town so beat the winter blues with Frank, Sammy and Dean.

Drift back in time to the glamorous, glitzy nights of Vegas in the company of three of the world’s most popular entertainers and 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, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, What Kind of fool Am I, Volare andseasonal classics including: Baby it’s Cold Outside, Let it Snow, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland & Auld Lang Syne.

Gallery

Most Popular See More

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Be More Chill

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Constellations

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets