The Garland Civic Theatre rings in 2020 and its 52nd Season with the comedic, jukebox musical “The Rat Pack Lounge,” by James Hindman and Ray Roderick.
The production boasts over 30 swinging tunes from legendary headliners whose names became synonymous with glitz, glam and the carefree party-lifestyle of a rapidly growing Las Vegas scene. The informal group, the Rat Pack (sometimes referred to as “The Summit”) was spearheaded by the multi-talented celebrities Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
Director Patty Granville lends her fearless leadership in this musical endeavor along with music director Mary Medrick at the musical helm. Granville has served as director of the Garland Performing Arts Center since its 1982 opening, and played an instrumental role in its inception. In 2003, the center was renamed the Granville Arts Center in her honor, celebrating the lasting legacy she’s created, and continues to forge, whilst honoring the impact the theater has had on the city, as well as other North Texas suburbs. Nearly 200,000 patrons visit the theater annually for educational programs, concerts, meetings and, of course, plays.
Enter this production of “The Rat Pack Lounge,” where we visit the laid-back ambiance of a Vegas bar where God, after they’d arrived in heaven, has sent the iconic Rat Pack headliners Frank (Dennis H. Gullion), Dean (Steve Golin) and Sammy (Brandon Baker) to correct a certain past wrongdoing. From the very start, the mature-humored comedy and lighthearted, sometimes goofball, tone is set, and the constant string of songs, dance numbers and antics begins. The tongue-in-cheek homage to the trio uses their well-known mannerisms, while paying homage to such classics as “High Hopes,” “My Way” and “Volare,” among others, making one audience member exclaim, “Oh that takes me back!”
As Sammy, Baker leaps, high kicks and commands the stage with electricity and charm, while also flirting devilishly with the entire audience. Gullion personifies Sinatra’s urbane, louche sharpness with pizazz and stylized vocals, in swinging tunes like, “I’m Gonna Live ‘Til I Die,” as well as softer ballads, including, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” when all three pack members lend their voices in outstanding harmonization. Golin expertly epitomizes Dean Martin’s languid demeanor, from the lazily-clasped cigarette and martini glass, to the effortless self-assurance, warm vocals, and perfect comedic timing that has the audience laughing aloud.
As the actors sling their arms across each other, smile and guffaw at the shared antics, crack jokes at each other’s expense, or share gorgeous musical melodies, their camaraderie on stage truly captures the alluring and poignant friendship of the original and iconic Rat Pack. The fairly low-stakes, but fun-filled romp also includes the lovely singer Whitney Golin, as Katherine Kerr/Angie, and Evan Figg as lounge owner Vic Candelino, with deadpan delivery and endearing vocals.
Act 2 does not fail to disappoint, with the cast performing one tune after another in true jukebox fashion, often eliciting cheers from the audience as memorable refrains fill the auditorium, including “Everybody Loves Somebody,” sung by the real-life couple, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” and “What Kind of Fool am I?” The audience is taken back in time to an energetic concert and will leave smiling.
The stage is set with memorable photos of the trio, stirring emotions and proving once again how timeless and universal music can be. The musical celebrates friendship, hope, honesty and unforgettable music.
“The Rat Pack Lounge” runs until February 2nd. Purchase tickets online or call (972) 205-2790.
Cover: (From L) Steve Golin, Whitney Golin, Evan Figg, Dennis Guillon, Brandon Baker. Photo Hamp Holcomb
N.L.Thi-Hamrick is devoted to all things that bring joy: good food, writing freely, lots of smiles, and pursuing things that make you feel worthwhile.