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Upon arrival at the Crown Theater at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Frank Sinatra is instantly playing in my head. Fitting, don’t you think? I am surrounded by a full house of Baby Boomers ready to sing along and tap their toes to the songs made famous by the legendary Rat Pack – Frank, Dean and Sammy.
If the Rat Pack was before your time, allow me a brief history dear reader. The Rat Pack was a group of New York actors originally centered on Humphrey Bogart and later led by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Their heyday was the 1960s when they toured and appeared in films such as “Ocean’s 11.” But their most famous stomping ground was the Sands Hotel Copa Room. Often, when one member of the Rat Pack was scheduled to appear, the rest would show up for an impromptu performance, giving the audience much more for their price of admission. Everyone wanted to be a part of the Rat Pack experience.
“The Rat Pack is Back” begins with some well-performed swing songs by the 12-piece Tribute Orchestra led by Lon Bronson. As the evening continues, it’s clear that the band is a fifth character, getting involved in the four performer’s many antics.
Mickey Joseph as comic foil Joey Bishop appears next upon orders of Dean to “warm the crowd up, dammit.” An endless stream of cheesy and risqué jokes followed, some funny, some groan worthy, some making the 81-year-old birthday girl in front blush. He had a great rapport with the audience and was amusingly self deprecating when the jokes OFTEN fell flat. Ba da bum.
So, let’s bring out the stars of the show, shall we? Drew Anthony as Dean Martin emerges first. An uncanny resemblance, lean and shiny in a silver tuxedo, cigarette in mouth, drink in hand, the strains of “That’s Amore” get things started. Next he launches into “You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You” to a swooning audience. He plays the part with a slightly drunken demeanor and even “borrows” a drink from a pretty lady in the audience for the first of MANY toasts. Okay, he drinks that drink. He’s playing Dean Martin for pete’s sake.
Kyle Diamond next appears as a dead ringer for Sammy Davis Jr. Shimmery in purple, shiny black shoes to highlight his dance moves, and accessories to die for, he owns the floor to “That Old Black Magic,” “The Candy Man” and “Mr Bojangles.” The Rat Pack was Sammy at his best and Diamond offers up an admirable tribute.
In between sets, the boys come out and interrupt each other with fun, playful banter. Frank’s on another power trip? Of course. Dean’s on his way to dancing drunkenly on the nearest table? Obviously. The dialogue is impromptu and seamless, adding a fun interlude between songs. A Lone Ranger and Tonto bit get the most laughs, with Martin’s character appearing in drag, and more than a bit tipsy at that point.
Time for Frank’s doppelgänger played by the dreamy Brian Duprey. The respected leader of the Rat Pack, Sinatra’s voice and stage presence are peerless. Duprey is dapper with perfectly coiffed hair and a black matte tuxedo. He doesn’t waste time launching into the hit “I Get a Kick Out of You.” His voice washes over the audience like liquid gold. Sigh. Diamond soon joins him on stage for some easy camaraderie and a few dance steps. A mobile bar is wheeled out for some MORE toasts by the four before “Luck Be a Lady Tonight” is performed by the ensemble cast. Time to wrap up the night with “My Way” and an encore of “New York, New York.” Bravo.
For Baby Boomers, the songs will spark memories of first kisses and a simpler time. For the younger crowd, it’s a memorable tribute to an ensemble we won’t see again. So sit back, relax and become immersed in the sounds of “The Rat Pack is Back.” It’ll make you feel so young.