Known as Old Blue Eyes or the Chairman of the Board by his millions of fans, Frank Sinatra had a very unique delivery style when he sang. The ultimate crooner, Sinatra had a sultry baritone voice and a way of sliding into his notes. Even though Sinatra died in 1998, his music and spirit live on.
My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra is now being presented by Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in downtown Arlington Heights through August 28. The juke box musical featuring songs made famous by Sinatra was originally conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson, with the book by Olson. The Metropolis production is directed by Executive Artistic Director Joe Keefe, with musical direction by Kenneth McMullen and choreography by Jessica Miret Garcia.
My Way is not a biographical story about Sinatra, rather the musical consists of five singers at what appears to be a rustic nightclub taking turns singing songs made famous by Sinatra with a few one liners and Rat Pack trivia thrown in. Unfortunately, the dialog is stale and forced. This is not the fault of the performers, but rather is indicative of a poorly written script. The singing, however, is delightful.
Michael Metcalf stands out among the ensemble. He has a deep, rich, and expressive voice and a twinkle in his eye that would make Sinatra proud. Metcalf has true star charisma. He faithfully captures the appeal of an old-time crooner.
Austin Nelson Jr. is the other male singer in the five-person cast. A regular at Metropolis, Nelson Jr. is the Chicago version of David Alan Grier. He is always smiling, and the grin is infectious. Nelson also has a lovely tenor voice and spirited delivery style. His performances are always a breath of fresh air.
There are three phenomenal female singers in the cast: Isabella Andrews, Heidi Kurzejka, and Jasmine Lacy Young. Each lady shines in their turn in the spotlight. In addition to her strong singing, Kurzejka also shows off her seductive side with some sultry dancing.
The musical is at its best when the cast breaks into five-part harmony. The harmonies are so effective, it makes one wish more of the production was arranged for five parts.
Musical director McMullen has the singers in fine form, and shares the stage with them as the keyboardist in the four piece jazz band accompanying the singers. The band is tight. There was not one missed note.
Songs taken from Sinatra’s five-decade career include such favorites as Strangers in the Night, Fly Me to the Moon, New York New York, Summer Wind, My Kind of Town, My Funny Valentine, and The Way You Look Tonight. And if you feel like singing along, you’re encouraged to do so.
To celebrate summer and keep patrons safe, My Way is being presented in a tent a few blocks from Metropolis’s theater complex at the corner of Evergreen and Eastman. Seats are staggered to allow for social distancing.
Metropolis’ production of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra will have you tapping your foot and dancing in your seat. A strong ensemble of singers make Metropolis’ My Way a delightful way to spend a carefree evening of nostalgia.
My Way is performed Thursday through Sunday, through August 28. Tickets are $40 for regular run shows and can be purchased online at www.MetropolisArts.com or by calling the box office at (847) 577-2121. For more information email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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