by Lila Achuff

Where have all the crooners gone?  Fortunately, if you can find your way to the Walnut Street Theatre, and I strongly suggest that you do, upstairs (Independence Studio on 3) in a cozy-ish intimate setting (sort of) you will be treated to the music and songs of one of the most famous crooners of the 20th century, Frank Sinatra (1915-1998), often referred to as Ol’ Blue Eyes.  This musical revue is performed by a very talented quartet:  Fran Prisco (director), Danielle Herbert, Carl Clemons-Hopkins and Ellie Mooney (choreographer).  And bringing it all together, Andrew Nelson (bass player) and Alex Bechtel (pianist and music director).

Fran Prisco, Danielle Herbert, Ellie Mooney and Carl Clemons-Hopkins star in MY WAY: A MUSICAL TRIBUTE TO FRANK SINATRA thru June 26 at Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3. (Photo by Mark Garvin.)

You may be up for hearing more than 1300 songs for which Sinatra was famous, however, you get to enjoy only 53 of them in this 1950’s nightclub setting.  Sounds like a lot, but you’ll be disappointed when they’re done.  I didn’t see any nodding heads (and I looked too!)  BTW, before you go and just for a challenge, make note of how many Sinatra songs you know from memory.  Then compare your list to the one in the Playbill.  You’ll recognize most of them, I’m sure.  BTW, this show is not just for the “elders”; it also appeals to a younger generation.  Just think, WE CAN ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND THE WORDS CLEARLY!  And, given the opportunity, most of us even remember them and can sing along!  In fact, I would have preferred to have seen the performers have more connection with the audience.  We’re so close!  It’s a no-brainer!

The sexy, sultry Danielle, with the seductive voice, sang with her entire being.  Every inch of her was into each song.  Even her facial expressions!  Absolutely incredible!  Her “shtick” was so recognizable to me but I couldn’t recall where I had seen her before.  “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”, she reminded me afterwards.  (Professionally speaking, Danielle, I’d like to follow you along your career path.  Keep me posted.)   Ellie is cute, bubbly and endearing.  Fran … charming and a rather good dancer.  Carl … sophisticated, handsome, smooth.  Throughout the show, our foursome delights us with bits of bio info regarding Sinatra, along with his likes, dislikes, gossipy “stuff”, etc., etc.

All in all, I promise you a very pleasant evening.  “I’ll Be Seeing You …”

Until the next show…

by David Grapes II and Todd Olson
Directed by Fran Prisco
May 5 – June 26, 2011
Walnut Street Theatre
Independence Studio on 3
825 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA

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