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  • Writer's pictureFrances

The Definitive Rat Pack Review | Bridgewater Hall | Manchester

If you are feeling the chill this Christmas, the Bridgewater Hall are hosting a cosy celebration of three classy characters who can welcome you in from the cold. Power players Frank Sinatra (played by Stephen Triffitt), Dean Martin (Mark Adams) and Sammy Davis Jr (George Daniel Long) are swinging and swigging onstage in a live concert that proves the boys are back on top.

Triffitt, Adams and Long have taken over the larger than life characters having worked together for over a decade in their faithful refashioning of the original Rat Pack Vegas show. It’s an entertaining, family-friendly template that clearly works for older diehard fans and young lovers of swing music. Boosted by the accompanying 14-piece Manhattan Swing Orchestra, the glossy experience offers a nostalgic 60’s throwback that is hard to resist.

Delving back into the catalogue of the pack’s players, each member has a solo act to play out a few of their favourite hits before passing the mic along to the next member. Combined with a few group performances, the boys offer captivating seasonal hits including Let It Snow, Baby It’s Cold Outside and White Christmas to get audiences into the festive spirit.

Acting as the main compere of the night, Triffitt played the part by inhabiting Franks mannerisms and performing I’ve Got You Under My Skin, New York, New York and the duet Well Did You Evah from the film High Society with Adams. On stage with a special rose for a special lady, Adams played out That’s Amore and Ain’t That A Kick In The Head while oozing confidence. Fortuitously the songs were chosen to allow the gentlemen plenty of time to play with their mobile bar and for the orchestra to shine with individual cornet, saxophone and trumpet solos.

The pink-suited and booted Long brought the gentler hit Mr Bojangles to life while being left the butt of the bully Sinatra’s jokes. Kept off stage for a large part of the first act, Sinatra stated that Sammy was missing after he opted to take a power nap on the backstage floor but couldn’t be found in the dark. The original Rat Pack were known for their questionable camaraderie with Sammy, along with their indulgences and excesses. Yet the men who were plagued by controversies off stage due to Dean’s alcoholism, Sammy’s drug abuse and Sinatra’s links to violent mobsters opted to leave out their major issues for the two-hour twenty-minute show. Instead, the bright-eyed, warm presence of each act kept the audience amused with largely Christmas cracker jokes.

At their best, the three intertwined singers blend for upbeat numbers that echo the talented tones of their embodied icons. Teamed with the razzle-dazzle of The Golddiggers backing dancers, the enjoyable mix of music, dance and comedy brings 60’s glamour to the Bridgewater stage with an easy-going Christmas show made for the whole family.

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