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GPAC flies away with ‘Our Sinatra’
By Mark Schulman
Three talented off-Broadway stars, Ronny Whyte, Kelly King and Brian Villegas featured over 60 of Sinatra's glitziest songs including "Come Fly with Me" and "New York, New York."
The trio sang under a hazy amber and blue glow of the GPAC theatre lights overhead.
Whyte and Villegas were dressed in tuxedos and King changed her attire from one elegant evening gown to another throughout the show.
The jazzy atmosphere was like an after hours lounge with the exception of dimly lit table candles, lingering cigar smoke and, of course, the sound of ice clinking in dozens of whiskey filled tumblers.
The soft bass and horns were provided by the six-man "Our Sinatra's" band set behind Whyte's grand piano that had a framed portrait of Sinatra sitting atop it.
In between songs, the three artists shared their unique stories of how Ol' Blue Eyes impacted their lives.
In the 1980s, young Villegas grew up in New York and loved to go to Yankee Stadium to watch his favorite baseball team play.
The thrill for him was after the game when the stadium would play "New York, New York" through the PA system. If the Yankees won, they would play Sinatra's version of the song. If they had lost, Liza Minelli's version would play.
"I really hoped they won," Villegas said.
Sinatra was not only known for his up-beat songs that could energize a crowd. Saloon songs or what Sinatra called "drunk songs" were also a staple of his career.
As the performance went on, "Our Sinatra" whittled down many of Sinatra's 1500 songs. But with many more to go, the three entertained the crowd with a compilation of his hits that recognized dozens of his songs lasting 15 minutes.
The extended melody ended as well as the show but not without an encore where "Our Sinatra" finally performed the famous "New York, New York."
This swinger was known for having ties with the mob, the Kennedy's and for his love of whiskey. Nevertheless, he was also a charitable and influential man.
Fortunately, "Our Sinatra" left out Sinatra's life's drama and focused on his music adding a small amount of biographical anecdotes.
This musical maverick had over 1500 studio recordings and could also be seen in over 50 films. Sinatra won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award in 1953 for his role as Pvt. Angelo Maggio in “From Here to Eternity.”
Ironically, the man who sang "Young at Heart" died of a heart attack at age 82 in Los Angeles, Calif.
"Our Sinatra" is part of the 2005-2006 Nostalgia Concert Series. The final engagement of the year in the series will be The Chairman of the Board & the Band of Oz at GPAC March 31.