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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

at London Palladium, London

By Michael Leech

  Frank Sinatra at the London Palladium

It's intriguing to see what projects producers can stir up to sell tickets. In the case of the current show at the Palladium (a Victorian theater designed by the great Frank Matcham, home to such events as Royal Command performances) they needed a major draw. What to do? Well they literally brought back the dead.

There's no doubt the star was a cunning craftsman who knew what he was about, felling women like forest trees. Reputedly tough skinned, we all know he also led a mysterious undercover life. What Sinatra lacked in true warmth and genuine depth he made up for in lusty, full throated fine-honed presentation.

A show that's an entertainment fantasy, you see a lot of long-lived Ol' Blue Eyes, but in film and photographic blowups, some black and white. The famous songs are all there and, having an unerring ear for a hit, they became his own as he sang them. The actual story is told by a company: young, eager, and lively, we are reminded of Sinatra's life from promising youth leading to final concerts and fading old roué routines.

The story starts from early days and first successes, then film and stage roles, recounted through the singer's marriages. It hops from wife to wife (though oddly there's almost no mention of Barbara Marx at #4). It falls to the big band plus a score of singer/ dancers to offer a new look at this much-viewed icon; they work hard, with a range of lively scenes to keep the old top humming. (It has real high spots too, especially when the cast capers around on a plane's wing!) Sinatra's many fans will find this alluring, although the photographic idea runs the risk of getting repetitive. Indeed this big blow-up show is slow taking off, but it must be doing something right, for it's selling very well. Doubtless for women fans, nostalgia for lost romance plays a big part.


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