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Stuart King

Review: THE RAT PACK LIVE FROM LAS VEGAS - Theatre Royal Haymarket

The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas You'd be forgiven for assuming that Mitch Sebastian's devised show in which three legends - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr share their on-stage Las Vegas antics with an audience accompanied by a big band, would be a universal crowd pleaser... but in truth, it was a pretty woeful experience.

The standards are all here - The Lady is a Tramp, Ain't That a Kick in the Head, Witchcraft, Fly Me to the Moon, and many others. Under Matthew Freeman's musical direction the dozen-strong band rattles-off the arrangements as Garrett Phillips delivers a passable if slightly wooden Sinatra, and Nigel Casey smoothly renders Martin's oily, playful charm.

David Hayes struggles lamely to produce anything approaching the nervous energy and vocal dexterity of Davis Jr. I suspect the latter was struggling with a seasonal cold which was responsible for the lack of upper register and the cracking of several notes, but given that this West End show boasts alternates, understudies and swings, this reviewer wonders if it is fair that the audience should be expected to applaud and commend an artist who is unable to deliver the performance requirements simply because the show must go on. Mr Bojangles and Once in a Lifetime were particularly disappointing as Hayes struggled gamely with the required nuances, breathing and vocal projection.

In keeping with the period (whilst at the same time rendering itself a dinosaur pastiche piece) the show's three women (playing the Burelli Sisters) are largely window dressing and the object of risqué asides and hammy flirtations. Amelia Adams-Pearce, Rebecca Parker and Laura Darton all give a good account of themselves, but will surely view their time in this production as a stepping-stone to (hopefully) bigger and better things.

Whilst the show's simple style-over-substance formula has doubtless provided performers with work and many audience-goers with a night of easy listening, ticket prices nowadays dictate that a greater level of sophistication and effort are required to leave your audience wanting more. The half-hearted applause at the end of the show was the most damning indication that this production needs to be put out to pasture rather than simply revised with the inclusion of an Ella Fitzgerald section in the new year, as is being proposed

The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas