Traverse City Events: It’s 2013. What on earth are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop doing here?
Having the time of their afterlives, apparently, singing, telling jokes, and in general displaying the kind of easy-going camaraderie the group was known for.
Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show features the four members of the famed Rat Pack (less the absent Peter Lawford), and will appear as one of the featured attractions at the 2013-14 season at City Opera House in Traverse City.
Hackett is a natural choice to helm the production. Not only is he a veteran comedian, producer, director and entertainment entrepreneur, he is the son of famed comedian and actor Buddy Hackett. So he grew up amidst the business.
He conceived the Rat Pack show after seeing a movie on HBO about the group. But rather than simply doing a retrospective or singing some songs, he put together the show as if the group had been transported back to earth in contemporary times.
“Instead of going back to 1960, it’s as if God sent them back to do one more show today,” Hackett said while taking a break from his touring schedule to chaperone his daughter’s class field trip to an aquarium.
Hackett said choosing individuals to portray the members involved culling through the hundreds who auditioned for Frank, Dino or Sammy. As for Bishop, Hackett took that role for himself.
“I’ve had people tell me I look just like Joey Bishop. I don’t look anything like Joey,” he said with a laugh.
Instead of basing the portrayal on physical resemblance, he looks for people who can sing and sound like the iconic entertainers, and exude the kind of charm and charisma they were known for.
“When you see someone doing a bad impression, it’s awful. These are all guys who can do it all.”
In addition to Hackett and the singer/actors portraying Sinatra, Martin and Davis, the show stars Lisa Dawn Miller, Hackett’s wife and the daughter of Motown songwriter Ron Miller. She portrays Frank’s One True Love, a vaguely-defined role that allows her to sing songs written by her father.
Hackett says that’s deliberate. “It’s based on Ava Gardner, but in the show, you’re not sure if it’s her, his mom, his wife ...”
Click here for a montage from the Rat Pack show. It takes place Friday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m.
The rest of the season is as follows. Additional shows will be announced as they are scheduled.
• Canadian Brass, Sunday, Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. The five-member group performs everything from Baroque music to marches, waltzes to Dixieland, and jazz to Broadway, transcribing, arranging, and commissioning more than 200 works.
• Ring of Fire: the Music of Johnny Cash, Wednesday, Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Ring of Fire packs in over 35 of Cash’s hit songs as a company of eight performers take you on a journey through his storied life and celebrated music.
• Arlo Guthrie, Friday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. The eldest son of America’s most beloved singer/writer, Woody Guthrie, performs a night of inspiring folk music accompanied by heartwarming storytelling.
• Yamato: Drummers of Japan, Monday, Nov. 4. Yamato travels the world with traditional Wadaiko drums, with a heart-pounding spectacle of athleticism, grace, precision, and musical expertise.
• Masters of the Fiddle featuring Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy, Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m. Two of the world’s most celebrated fiddlers, this married duo melds virtuosity into a whirlwind of fiddle-driven music, dance, and song, combining the best of French, Celtic, American Bluegrass, and Cajun styles.
• Robert Dubac’s The Male Intellect: An Oxymoron?, Saturday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m. & Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. Comedian Dubac’s show is a combination of theater and stand-up comedy that is funny, provocative, and insightful all at once.
• An Evening with Rachel York, Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. A versatile actress, singer, dancer, and comedienne, York comes to Traverse City for an intimate evening of classic Broadway tunes and popular songs.
• Henry & Mudge, Saturday, Nov. 30 at 11 a.m. & 1:30 p.m. Henry can’t find a playmate. Luckily, he’s got Mudge, a great big canine buddy, with whom he can share adventures.
• Dailey & Vincent, A Bluegrass Holiday, Saturday, Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. Jamie Dailey, formerly of Doyle Lawson’s Quicksilver, and Darrin Vincent, from Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder, have been deemed by The New York Times “the most celebrated new bluegrass act of the last few years.”
• American Big Band’s Home for the Holidays, Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Home for the Holidays is a jazzy and snazzy evening chock-full of holiday cheer with eight singers/dancers and 12 musicians performing a fully staged, costumed, and choreographed big band holiday show.
• Eisenhower Dance: Red, Hot & Blue, Friday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. Detroit-based Eisenhower Dance Ensemble performs an array of works by renowned choreographers.
• The Broadway Dolls, Friday, April 11 at 8 p.m. A celebration of Broadway music, rock n’ roll, 60’s girl groups, and dance is performed by a roster of some of the most dynamic women on Broadway.
• Cyrille Aimée, Friday, April 25 at 8 p.m. Vocalist Aimée combines Dominican rhythms and the incredible swing of French Gypsies in her jazz and pop stylings.
Season tickets (three or more shows) are on sale now. Tickets to individual shows will go on sale in mid-June. City Opera House eClub members get advance opportunities to buy tickets before they go on sale to the public. An eClub membership is FREE, and is the best way to get advance notice for added shows. Sign up at CityOperaHouse.org/eClub.