It's sung Sinatra's way at PlayhouseSquare
Don't get me wrong. Professional dancers and choreographers are tremendously talented people, and there's plenty to love about the world of dance. But, as someone who's worried about falling down when he tries to walk and chew gum, I don't relate to that graceful world all that much.
Yet, as someone who greatly appreciates music and high-quality audio, I was very interested in a specific aspect of "Come Fly Away," the latest entry in the current Broadway Series at PlayhouseSquare in Cleveland. One of the many shows choreographed by the renowned Twyla Tharp, "Come Fly Away" is built around a collection of songs recorded by the late Frank Sinatra.
However, unlike Tharp's "Movin' Out" -- built around the songs of Billy Joel -- a vocalist wasn't cast to perform the songs. Instead, "Come Fly Away" cast Sinatra's himself -- or at least recorded performances by him -- and combines them with a live big band on stage.
How would this work? Would it sound good. Would it feel natural? (Pretty well, mostly and sort of are the respective answers.)
Sitting about seven rows back on Tuesday's opening-night performance, Sinatra's voice and the band backing it did not sound like a cohesive whole. The sound of the band sounded like it came, from, well the band. Sinatra's vocals, on the other hand, sounded like they came from above. Perhaps it was meant to sound as if he is singing from heaven, but it's a bit odd. (It should be noted, though, that when I moved to the back of the Palace Theatre at the show's end, the sound was more unified, so maybe good seats come at more than one kind of a price.)
I'm leaving the actual News-Herald review of "Come Fly Away" to Bob Abelman, a regular contributor of well-written, thought-provoking theater reviews, but I will say the show did boast lovely and sensual -- even downright sexy -- dance numbers, and it was great to hear the Chairman of the Board's voice for an hour and 15 minutes. ("Come Fly Away" is a short show with no intermission, which may help you drag someone who isn't a fan of dance down to the theater. Tuesday's show started a little after 7:30, and I was home in Willoughby before 9:30.)
There is not one line of dialogue in "Come Fly Away," so all the communication comes via Tharp's choreography and Sinatra's music. And while Sinatra may not have sounded as if he was standing with the big band, he sounded great singing truncated versions of "That's Life," "My Way" and scads of other tunes.
So start spreadin' the news: Sinatra's in town ... sort of.
-- Mark Meszoros | Entertainment@News-Herald.com | @nhfeatures