54 Salutes Frank Sinatra: Celebrating His Second Century!

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54 Salutes Frank Sinatra:
Celebrating His Second Century!

54 Below, NYC, July 16, 2022

Reviewed by Ron Forman

The 54th edition of 54 Salutes Frank Sinatra: Celebrating His Second Century! at 54 Below proved that Scott Siegel has a good thing going. His template is simply to gather a group of wonderful vocalists, choose 12 to 14 songs from the more than 1,400 songs Sinatra recorded or sang on radio or television, and match the song to the singer’s style and sound. Then you have a format that will produce an endless supply of vastly entertaining shows. What makes these shows extra special is Siegel’s always interesting and often amusing way with which he introduces each number.
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This latest edition included an extraordinary cast of truly wonderful vocalists as well as and the brilliant music director Ron Abel whose work on piano enhanced each of their numbers.

Bill Daugherty opened the show with a lively “You Make Me Feel So Young,” featuring a very nice piano solo by Abel. The dynamic Ryan Knowles has a style and sound all his own. His big sound and kinetic action across the stage made his performance of “The Lady Is a Tramp” a delightfully new experience. Ben Jones began “Granada” in Spanish and then switched to English; he had the crowd cheering as he held the last note on the final “Granada.” Nick Mannas started “How Deep Is the Ocean (How High Is the Sky)” slowly and softly and then built to a big finish. Metropolitan Opera star John Easterlin’s voice filled the room as he thrilled the crowd with “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing.” Jones returned to the stage and used a very different voice for a super-fast, amazing performance of Alan Jay Lerner’s wonderful list song, “Come Back to Me.” (music by Burton Lane). After Jones’ performance, Daugherty brought the crowd back to Earth with his dramatically performed “September Song.” Next to closing, Knowles had the crowd joining in each time the phrase “That’s life” came up in his powerful performance of the song with that title. Easterlin closed the show by whispering the first few lines of the dramatic and seemingly autobiographical “My Way” and built slowly to a conclusion that left the audience 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.