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THEATER REVIEW: Get groovin' with “Drinkin’, Singin’, Swingin’: A Tribute to Sinatra, Davis and Martin”

The Rat Pack is back ¬-- well, three of ‘em, anyway – direct from Las Vegas, in a tribute to the guys and their famous lounge act.

Frank Sinatra (Peter Pavone), Sammy Davis, Jr. (Bryan Clark) and Dean Martin (Rich Michel), backed by a boffo seven-man orchestra, are at Welk Resort Theatre for a short engagement (though April 24) of a show with a long name: “Drinkin’, Singin’, Swingin’: A Tribute to Sinatra, Davis and Martin.”

The show opens with comic David Gee, of questionable taste for this crowd. Jokes like “I’m so optimistic about the economy I’ve been out pricing pots to piss in” and “Gay Germans taste just like chicken” had some female audience members complaining at intermission.

But this show is about the Pack.

Dean Martin was arguably more famous for drinking (or at least talking about it) than singing, and impersonator Michel does not slight that part of the act. But he also comes through on familiar Martin standards like “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime” and “Volare.”

Pavone has a good ear for the Ol’ Blue Eyes persona and his magical phrasing, using it to great effect in songs like “The Lady Is A Tramp” and “Strangers In The Night.”

But the star of this show is Clark, who doesn’t dance much, but he’s got lung power and ‘tude, a great sound (not to mention a whole wardrobe of glasses) and great stage presence -- and left me wanting to hear more Davis hits like “Hey There” and “That Old Black Magic.”
He’s even got a hoot of a Michael Jackson impression.

The Vegas orchestra is fine; it sounds like they’ve been together a while. Special kudos go to first trumpeter Tommy Porrello, who blows his brains out on that horn.

This is a pleasant trip down Rat Pack memory lane. If you like this show, you can come back for Show 2, which features a totally different program.

The details

“Drinkin’, Singin’, Swingin’” plays through April 24 at Welk Resorts Theatre, 8860 Lawrence Welk Drive in Escondido.

Wednesday through Sunday at 1 p.m.

For tickets, call (888) 802-7469.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.