I have to admit, walking up the red carpet into the Arts Theatre in London’s West End to see the Rat Pack Live gave me something of a frisson. The prospect of an evening of old-school, star-studded entertainment and delicious cocktails was enticing, even on a Monday night.
On entering, however, the illusion of glamour was swiftly dissipated by a brightly lit, slightly chaotic ticket desk, around which a huddle of audience members hovered uncertainly in their vintage finery. “I have to get changed, now!” shouted someone, presumably one of the stars of the show, as he hurtled down the stairs at breakneck speed. We followed, somewhat apprehensively. At the bottom of the stairs we came to a door and beyond this, we discovered to our great relief, the magic began. In a shadowy cocktail bar guests lounged and laughed and drank, while waiters shook , stirred and poured with breath-taking speed and skill, to the accompaniment of a tinkling piano and the mellifluous tones of a beautiful blonde, who took us through a medley of classical hits.
Suitably refreshed we then moved into the theatre itself for the main event, a show by Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and of course the great Frank Sinatra himself. Though considerably later than scheduled, it was certainly worth waiting for, consisting of a finely balanced medley of hits, banter, jokes and physical comedy. The three men are not impersonators; rather they are singers and entertainers who seek to embody the spirit of the Rat Pack, and in this they succeed beyond measure. Louis Hartshorn is a suave Frank, Michael Duke an energetic and rubber-faced Sammy, and Kieran Sims steals the show as the charming drunkard Dean Martin. They may be young but they are old hands at this show, having performed it for many years at the Edinburgh Fringe, and it shows. Singly and together they belted out a selection of crowd-pleasing hits, ably supported by the seductive Rachel Owens and Marie Wilson, as well as a barn-storming band under the aegis of the energetic James Ball. Clever lighting helped to set the appropriate mode for each song, and the audience were noisily appreciative throughout.
The show was over all too soon, but thankfully those who wished for further entertainment found it in the form of a live jazz band back in the cocktail bar. It seemed as though most people certainly did wish, and the stars themselves mingled with the happy throng. The dimly-lit scene took on something of a dream-like quality; looking at the people in their classic dress, clutching pink cocktails and tumblers of whisky, listening to the music, it almost felt as though we had drifted back in time.
There is undoubtedly a lot of talent involved in The Rat Pack Live. It was a real pleasure to see young people so in love with the old hits, and their performances, without exception, were admirably slick and professional.
Review By Genni Trickett
Rat Pack Live
For the second year running, Hartshorn – Hook Productions brings its signature Edinburgh Festival sell-out show The Rat Pack – Live to the Arts Theatre for a stunning night of 1950s glitz and glamour.
Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back, 100 years after his birth, so come and revel in the world of Frank, Dean and Sammy live at the Arts as their legendary recordings are brought to life on stage in the most sophisticated evening of razor-sharp wit and silky-smooth swing you’ll see all year.
Frank Sinatra – Louis Hartshorn
Dean Martin – Kieran Sims
Sammy Davis Jr – Michael Duke
Whisky Sisters – Rachael Owens (brunette), Marie Wilson (blonde)
Director: Lily Howkins
Musical Director: James Robert Ball
Lighting Design: Richard Williamson
Producers: Louis Hartshorn and Brain Hook
Assistant Producers: Crystal Noll and Paul Vrides
Gala Night: Monday 19th October 2015
The Arts Theatre
GREAT NEWPORT STREET
LONDON, WC2H 7JB