Richard Shelton: Sinatra: Raw

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Richard Shelton

Sinatra: Raw

Live at Zédel at Crazy Coqs, London, UK, January 15, 2019

Reviewed by Helen Theophanous for Cabaret Scenes

Richard Shelton
Photo: Glenn Copus

Richard Shelton’s clever script and his performance of Sinatra’s familiar repertoire transported the audience convincingly to The Purple Room in Palm Springs, the scene of the singer’s final appearance, and where he recalled, between generous slugs of Jack Daniels, the significant events of his life.

London’s acclaimed cabaret pianist Michael Roulston, standing in for Nelson Riddle, played effortlessly shifting between swing, sparse ballads, and big-band style treatments as Shelton delivered perfect stylistic renditions of such songs as “All or Nothing at All”(Arthur Altman/Jack Lawrence) and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (Cole Porter) with power and sensitivity, swinging with energy or with sudden soft phrases convincingly and uncannily portraying the Sinatra sound.

Shelton drew the audience into the recollections including the love affair with Ava Gardner and the JFK connections as well as Sinatra’s stand on equal rights.

These events were brought vividly to life as Shelton’s consummate acting talent gave an amazing portrayal of the singer raging at or reflecting on his life.

For me, the pure joy of the performance of any one of the songs would have been enough. In particular “Angel Eyes” (Earl Brent/Matt Dennis), “That’s Life” (Dean Kay/Kelly Gordon) and “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)” (Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer) were as near to being Sinatra himself.

But, with every song Shelton became Sinatra.
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The concept of the play is brilliant and the performance uncanny. Shelton skillfully recreated Sinatra’s legacy.
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He portrayed the character with brilliant ease, and with his gift of replicating the stunning vocal ability of his hero he brought Sinatra right into the room.

Five stars!

Helen Theophanous

Helen Theophanous is half Greek/half Irish and studied music at Goldsmiths' and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has performed classical works and lead roles in musical theater. Following a career in Education Management, Helen studied jazz with Lea DeLaria and performs in major London venues, appearing regularly at Ronnie Scott's Bar with the resident trio with whom she made her album “Amici.” Her recent Bacharach show was launched at the Crazy Coqs, where Helen occasionally hosts the late night Open Mic. Clare Martin OBE said of Helen's voice “ ...stunning and classy ..with drama and presence...”