The Rat Pack deliver a magical one-of-a-kind experience
Phillips’ vocals were truly outstanding, his intonation and vocal quality fit Sinatra’s songs beautifully while his own distinct vocal flares give these classics a real edge. His Angel Eyes was the most moving moment of the show. Hayes’ was electric as Davis Jr, his Mr Bojangles sung with such variety in style and emotive storytelling. The crowd-pleaser came in the form of Casey’s performance as Dean Martin with his inappropriate humour, convincing pratfalls and intoxicated slurs, yet he also managed to deliver one of the most emotionally honest depictions of these icons.
Musical Director Martin Freeman is a strong presence throughout the show as he plays the piano, which doubles up as a kind of onstage whiskey bar for the stars. Behind Freeman’s piano, the rest of the 12-strong band are set up high on a platform, creating the most tremendous sound; four saxophonists work with two trombones and three trumpets supported by an excellent drummer and double-bassists - one of the most skillful and passionate double-bass performances I’ve ever seen.
Singing and dancing trio Amelia Adams-Pearce, Rebecca Parker, and Joanna Walters are exquisite in both talent and aesthetic as glamourous imagined group The Borelli Sisters. In their corseted sequin costumes they dominate the stage with their slick Fosse-style jazz choreography and tight harmonies throughout the show. Their rendition of Don’t Mean A Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing) was particularly memorable.
As a tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the birth of the Queen of Jazz, Nicola Emmanuelle is enchanting as she joins in the second half as Ella Fitzgerald. Emmanuelle’s voice isn’t quite Fitzgerald’s, but instead matches her skill, style, playfulness and explosive sound. Her presence commands the stage as she begins her spectacular rendition of Night & Day, her glittery gaze transfixing the listeners. After a duet with Sinatra, and then a scat-off with Davis Jr she vanishes, only returning for the finale; her performance was so sensational that her presence was deeply missed.
The structure of the show is perhaps a little amatuer with it’s basic banter - song - banter - song format, but still manages to give an insight into the lives of these characters through their onstage personas with slapstick (almost sketch-like) fillers. There is no narrative to follow, and the true storytelling is within the songs themselves - which are powerful. There are moments of discomfort in the use of racist and sexist jokes which can be difficult for modern audiences to digest. The Borelli Sisters acceptance and tolerance of the ogling, comments and objectification from the male stars was uncomfortable to watch, but indeed a reflection of the times - reminding the audience of how far we’ve come.
The Rat Pack deliver a magical one-of-a-kind experience - a truly unforgettable night.