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, September 14, 2019

Reviewed by Ron Forman for Cabaret Scenes

Beth Malone

The Frank Sinatra Songbook contains 209 Billboard-charted hit singles and 55 charted albums, so there is no end in sight for Scott Siegel’s monthly series 54 Salutes Frank Sinatra. The format for this very successful series is simple: Siegel puts together a cast of cabaret and Broadway veterans along with some of his rising stars, all of whom are excellent singers, and matches them appropriately to songs associated with Sinatra.

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Siegel introduces each number with an amusing anecdote or an interesting fact about the song.

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Music director Mark Hartman adjusted his work on piano to each singer’s style and sound, and his solos always brought applause from the audience.

The show began with two big-voiced baritones, Willie Demyan and Hunter Ryan Hendlicka who sang “All the Way” and “I Could Write a Book.

” Fifteen-year-old prodigy Anaïs Reno displayed the poise and vocal ability of a veteran cabaret performer: Her phrasing and acting made her performance of “But Not for Me” memorable. She returned to perform “Desafinado” in both Portuguese and English (Sinatra sang it only in English) featuring a very nice bossa nova solo by Hartman. I will be following her career as she appears to have the makings of a future star.

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Willie Falk had me believing that he really was angry with his dynamic “I Wanna Be Around.” As this was the week of 9/11, Falk returned next to closing to do a moving “Ave Maria.” Beth Malone displayed an engaging personality and a great smile as she swung nicely on “Old Devil Moon” and “Young at Heart.” Adan Gallegos’ beautiful sound and his acting ability did justice to what has become one of my personal favorites, “Once Upon a Time.

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” Broadway star Martin Vidnovic’s acting ability, phrasing, and wonderful voice produced an ultra-dramatic “It Was a Very Good Year.” Demyan returned, holding a drink in his hand, to mirror Sinatra’s iconic recording of “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” which featured only piano accompaniment. Vidnovic has the stature, the look, the voice, and the dramatic skill to close the show to thundering applause with “My Way.

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.