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BrumHour saw Sinatra The Musical at the invite of Birmingham Rep.
By David Fox twitter.com/DavidFoxTheatre
Review: Sinatra The Musical at Birmingham Rep
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐”A must-see production!”
Directed and Choreographed by Kathleen Marshall Written by Joe DiPietro
Frank Sinatra. You know the name. You certainly know the music. But how much do you know about the man behind it all? The world premiere of a brand-new musical sheds light on how the greatest voice of Twentieth Century America began his amazing career – showing his highs, as well as his lows.
Beginning on New Year’s Eve, 1942, Frank first steps on stage in New York. From there his life changes forever as his career goes stratospheric. But success in music does not bring happiness as Frank struggles with his marriage to Nancy, and an affair with Ava Gardner. As his career falters, Sinatra fights back to win back his audiences and his success.
Sinatra the Musical stars Matt Doyle as Frank – it takes a lot of guts to take on an icon such as this, but Doyle carries it off magnificently. He is clearly relishing the role and gives a fun and playful performance, perfectly capturing Sinatra’s mannerisms.
The rest of the ensemble cast were fantastic too – with standout performances from Phoebe Panaretos as the downtrodden Nancy Sinatra, hilarious turns from Dawn Buckland and Vincent Riotta as Dolly and Marty Sinatra (Frank’s parents) – their You Make Me Feel So Young routine was hilarious. There were many funny cameos which read like a Who’s Who? of the Golden Age of Hollywood: Billie Holliday, Nat King Cole, and a scene-stealing Gene Kelly!
Special mention has to go to Ana Villafañe who was simply stunning as Ava Gardner – amazing acting and an amazing voice!
As you would expect the music in Sinatra The Musical is simply out of this world – backed by an amazing 14-piece orchestra skilfully delivering the Big Band swing sound. You’ll be singing along all night to such Sinatra classics as All of Me, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, That’s Life and too many more to mention. The rousing finale of New York, New York (what else?) had the audience on their feet – a more well-deserving standing ovation I have never seen.
The song and dance routines were amazing under Kathleen Marshall’s skilful direction, with choreography reminding me of old-time MGM showstoppers. Some particularly funny moments included a parade of Frank’s mistresses inviting him to Come Fly with them, and the filming of From Here to Eternity.
Visually Sinatra The Musical is a spectacular production. The set design was effective with moving sets complimented by screens and rear projection – it looked part-Mad Men aesthetic, part-1950s Hollywood musical.
I have to say that since taking over as Artistic Director, Sean Foley is really impressing – not only with the choice of shows, but also the fact that the Rep is now producing so many home-grown shows. Sinatra The Musical deserves packed houses at home, a successful run in London, and then a Broadway run – I am sure they will all be successful (and all starting here in Brum!)
Everything about this production is outstanding, and has the sparkle of Hollywood. Slick, sexy, and spectacular – honestly it is a must-see production! Sinatra The Musical is at Birmingham Rep until 28th October 2023. Discover what is coming up at Birmingham Rep here: birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on.