54 Salutes Frank Sinatra: Celebrating His Second Century

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54 Salutes Frank Sinatra:
Celebrating His Second Century

Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, May 25, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Frank Sinatra

It is not surprising that each edition of Scott Siegel’s 54 Salutes Frank Sinatra: Celebrating His Second Century at Feinstein’s/54 Below sells out the room, even this edition during the Memorial Day weekend. Each of these shows is filled with classic songs associated with Sinatra performed by some of the very best Broadway and cabaret vocalists. However, even by that standard, this edition stands out, every singer was truly exceptional, and it even contained a spectacular dance number.

As always, Siegel’s comments were interesting, informative, and amusing. Music director Ross Patterson’s work on piano blended perfectly with each performer’s voice and style and his solo interludes always brought applause from the audience.

The sultry Nicole Henry opened the show by reminding us that the summer season has officially begun with a soft jazzy, very-different-than-Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” and gave an excellent performance out of any I have heard of “All the Way.” Douglas Ladnier was the first of the four big-voiced baritones in the show, offering a very slow and dramatic “Fools Rush In.” Marcus Lovett, dressed appropriately in a tuxedo for a Sinatra show, swung nicely through “I Get a Kick Out of You,” and acted tipsy in his second number, which he started softly, capturing the essence of “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road).” Gabrielle Stravelli displayed her beautiful sound and wonderful phrasing on “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” (“Corcovado”), featuring an excellent solo by Patterson. Michael Winther sang an exciting “I’m Gonna Live ’Til I Die” and a soft and sweet “Memories of You,” including the seldom-heard verse. Martin Vidnovic very dramatically performed “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry,” his soft ending added to the drama. Benjamin Mapp got a standing ovation for his finger-snapping, spectacular dancing on the small stage to “Anything Goes.” Ladnier closed the show turning “Send in the Clowns” into a mini drama, his big, bold voice fading nicely to end this wonderful show.

Ron Forman

Ron Forman has been a Mathematics Professor at Kingsborough Community College for 45 years. In that time, he has managed to branch out in many different areas. From 1977 to 1994 he was co-owner of Comics Unlimited, the third largest comic book distribution company in the USA. In 1999,after a lifetime of secretly wanting to do a radio program, he began his weekly Sweet Sounds program on WKRB 90.3 FM, dedicated to keeping the music of the Great American Songbook alive and accessible. This introduced him to the world of cabaret, which led to his position as a reviewer for Cabaret Scenes.