Rusty Ferracane: High Standards

Rusty Ferracane

High Standards
Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Stage Two,
Scottsdale, AZ, February 9, 2020
Reviewed by Lynn Timmons Edwards

Rusty Ferracane

The Scottsdale Center for the Arts is succeeding in turning Stage Two, an intimate theater with about 100 seats and formerly known as “The Cinema,” into “The Jazz Lounge.” They could not have picked a better Arizonan to showcase in the series than Rusty Ferracane. A locally grown talent who has spent a decade shuttling between Los Angeles and New York, has been a working singer/actor in Phoenix for the past 30 years. He crooned his way slowly into the show with a snippet of “That’s Life,” which evolved quickly into “Up a Lazy River.” His show built as he let the audience in on his childhood fondness for the Great American Songbook artists such as Nat King Cole with “L.O.V.E” and “Unforgettable.”

From the ages of 16 to 19, Ferracane worked as a singing busboy and waiter for a Scottsdale historic icon, Jed Nolan’s Music Hall. There he perfected his recreation of Johnny Mathis’ sound, which still sits comfortably in his voice today. He really got warmed up with “Wonderful, Wonderful” and “Misty.” Then his star power flashed before us as he lit up the house with “I’m the Greatest Star” from Funny Girl.

He paid homage to his decade on the road with a strong “Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home,” and let us know he’s not ready to retire yet with “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.” Occasionally the band overpowered the sound balance so when he sang “People” with just piano accompaniment it was a relaxing change. The high standards on the stage were led by pianist and arranger Craig Bohmler, who not only excels as an accompanist, but he is a prolific composer of classical, opera, and musical theater music and a brilliant arranger. Ferracane introduced us to his husband and musical director by featuring his solo performance with one of Gershwin’s piano preludes. All of the musicians held their own, but Jim Germann’s clarinet, flute, and sax took many of the songs to a “higher standard” than expected.  Bohmler’s tour-de-force arrangements for me were of the Sinatra classic “Chicago” and the Gershwins’ “I’ve Got Rhythm.”

Ferracane excels at bringing Sinatra songs to life and gifted his sold-out audience with several, including “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Theme from New York, New York,” and “That’s Life,” bringing the cabaret full circle from the opening notes. I loved the intimacy of “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road),” his most introspective song.

After much applause and a standing “O” we were left with the encore “My Way.” Rusty Ferracane and Craig Bohmler are a formidable team of talent and took all the time in the world after the show to greet their audience, showing a high standard of grace and charm to match.

Lynn Timmons Edwards

Lynn writes and performs themed cabaret shows based on the songs of the Great American Songbook throughout Arizona. She has had three short plays produced in the Theatre Artists Studio Festival of Summer Shorts and is working on a full length play, "Fairy," based on the life of Mary Russell Ferrell Colton, a founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona. In addition to writing and singing, Lynn plays bridge and tennis and enjoys traveling with her husband and artistic companion, Bob. Born in Ohio, Lynn is a graduate of Denison University (BA), Arizona State University (MPA) and has lived in Arizona since 1977.