54 Below Sings Frank Sinatra: The Second Century

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54 Below Sings Frank Sinatra

The Second Century
Feinstein’s/54 Below, NYC, February 8, 2020
Reviewed by Ron Forman

Frank Sinatra

Jack Brinsmaid’s swinging performance of “Fly Me to the Moon” nicely set the stage for the 34th edition of Scott Siegel’s twice-monthly series Sinatra: The Second Century. This edition featured 14 songs closely associated with Sinatra performed by a group of very talented vocalists.

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Lianne Marie Dobbs put on a fedora to emulate Sinatra for her well-acted out “The Lady Is a Tramp,” including the verse. Sinatra made that song his own in the film Pal Joey. Siegel introduced her second number, a torchy “I Fall in Love Too Easily” by mentioning Sinatra’s four wives along with the names of other women that Sinatra proposed to, including Marilyn Monroe and Lauren Bacall. Michael Winther’s thoughtful and softly performed “Last Night When We Were Young” was especially moving. He returned later in the show to belt the seldom performed “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die.

Sinatra is associated with two songs about New York. Brian Charles Rooney mixed funny comments about where patrons in the audience were from during his performance of “New York, New York” (Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden and Adolph Green) before showing off his exceptional voice with a big finish.

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Sinatra co-wrote “I’m a Fool to Want You,” shortly after his second wife, Ava Gardner, divorced him. Willy Demyan captured the drama of the song with his very emotional, well-acted performance. In his second number he emulated Sinatra’s iconic “One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)”: music director Ross Patterson’s piano accompaniment was reminiscent of Bill Miller’s work on the original recording. Young Brazilian vocalist Pedro Copetti performed “The Girl from Ipanema” in both English and Portuguese, accompanied on stage by the dazzling tap dancing of Felipe Galaganni. It is quite inspirational to hear a newcomer to the United States emotionally perform “The House I Live In,” and the audience showed their approval with their thunderous applause when he concluded.

This show was performed the week of Valentine’s Day, and four-time Grammy award-winning Metropolitan Opera star John Easterlin thrilled the crowd with “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.” Siegel related the story of how Paul Anka heard a song in France and wrote a lyric especially for Sinatra and how Sinatra recorded “My Way” in just a 20-minute session. Easterlin started the performance of it softly and then built to a very dramatic, spectacular finish. Rooney closed the show with the second of Sinatra’s New York songs “Theme from New York, New York,” holding the note on the word “one” as Sinatra did, pausing and then holding the final note on “York,” as the audience kept on cheering.

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.