Theater review: Sinatra celebrated in ‘Christmas My Way’

By Kerry Clawson
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Christmas My Way at Weathervane Playhouse stars (from left) Daniel Colaner, Chanda K. Porter, Kim Thomas, and Jay Sigler. The show runs through Dec 21.

Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash is a swinging, sophisticated show that leads audiences through the Sinatra songbook and celebrates his favorite holiday of the year — Christmas.

Clad in festive gowns and tuxedos, the four-member Weathervane Playhouse cast, cocktails in hand, brings to life the world of Sinatra — including his favorite tunes, jokes and adult beverage, which, by the way, was Jack Daniels.

Sinatra, Mr. Christmas himself, was born Dec. 12, 1915. During his career, he produced 22 Christmas albums and 31 holiday shows.

Weathervane director Jacqi Loewy has created very simple yet effective choreography for this musical revue, which relies more on singing and anecdotes to get audiences into the festive spirit. The revue, created by David Grapes II and Todd Olson, features 14 Christmas tunes as well as beloved Sinatra standards including New York, New York, My Way, Fly Me To the Moon and much more.

The show even includes an audience-participation song, The Twelve Days of Christmas Sinatra style, including everything from four coo-coo chicks to eight drinking buddies.

The quartet came across as relaxed and fun-loving as each held up numbered gifts in turn to illustrate the song, but this tongue-twister of a number could be better synchronized.

Tenor Daniel Colaner, making his Weathervane debut, is a brilliant vocalist who leads the cast. His professional opera background is apparent as he emotes in Sinatra favorites including Come Rain or Come Shine.

What Chanda Porter lacks in power in her upper range, she makes up for with confidence and pizzazz in her performance style.

Kim Thomas, another Weathervane newcomer, has a lovely-sounding voice but needs to loosen up with her stage presence.

Jay Sigler presents a suave demeanor but has some trouble with pitch and a sometimes harsh tone.

The four performers create a nice energy together, and it doesn’t take much effort for audience members to settle in to listen to 30 songs that Sinatra once performed.

The onstage jazz trio jams, led by John Ebner at the piano with bass player Don Dasco and drummer Mick Shaull.

Alan Scott Ferrall has created a festive set with an upright piano that doubles as a bar, a red proscenium with snowflakes and a sparkling white curtain behind the action.

This revue doesn’t shy away from Sinatra’s penchant for drinking or from some blue jokes that are downright sexist in this era.

The show also touches upon the artist’s broken heart at losing his great love, Ava Gardner. An anecdote about Sinatra showing up in Africa, where Gardner was filming, to give her a Christmas tree tugs at the heartstrings.

In this show, we learn that in Sinatra’s 60 years performing, he never did an encore. But we’re glad this Weathervane cast does: After they’re raised their champagne flutes for a toast and a rollicking That’s Life, they’re back again singing the iconic My Way.

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com.


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