True to the show’s name, Richard Shelton gives us an intimate, raw glimpse into Frank Sinatra’s private life. Opening with a powerful song cover and pouring himself a glass of Jack Daniels, we start to get the feeling that there’s something slightly sinister in his past. Addressing certain audience members as Carey Grant and Sophia Loren, Shelton skillfully transported us back in time to 1971. Haunting piano meolodies provided a backing track to his storytelling.
A well-paced act and Shelton's performance is objectively outstanding
Starting at the beginning of his life, Shelton outlined several events as if he were talking to close personal friends. His mother faced complications during his birth and he was not expected to survive, but he did. Shelton drew a parallel between Sinatra being forced to struggle for his first breath and his resilience to the adversity he would face throughout his life. For example, neither of his parents responded well to his aspiration of becoming a professional singer, so he started out as a singing waiter in secret.
Shelton then moved on to Sinatra's later stages, sharing his perspective of his divorce from Nancy and Sinatra's whirlwind love affair with Ava Gardner, comparing the latter to a revolving door that he could not escape for the rest of his life.
These monologues were interspersed with classic renditions of Sinatra songs, with Shelton delivering particularly outstanding performances of Without You and Angel Eyes. His impersonation of Sinatra is well-performed and striking throughout the show's entirety. The show was admittedly slow at times as it lasted a full hour, and audience members not as well-versed in names and events from the 1960s onwards may be slightly lost at times. However, for Sinatra fans Sinatra: Raw is a well-paced act and Shelton's performance is objectively outstanding; quite simply, it is an enjoyable afternoon for all.