Infinity Theatre Company’s My Waytesttest
Tribute bands of performers impersonating famous artists are in vogue. My Way, now playing at Infinity Theatre, is subtitled “A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra.” But this show is intended as a genuine tribute, not merely an impersonation of Ol’ Blue Eyes. For that, be grateful because it is much more, and it reaches loftier goals.
Four professional singer/actors (all members of Actors’ Equity) take Sinatra songs sung thematically and bring them to life. A pair of mature actor/singers and a pair of young actor/singers bring very different sensibilities to the songs. For those of Sinatra’s generation, this is a memory walk. For those who are younger, this could make some new Sinatra fans.
All the performers have strong, Broadway-style singing voices and the acting skills to match. Joseph Dellger especially captures the Sinatra ease of performance and acts out the story songs with poignancy, humor and strength, each as needed. Mary Jo Mecca is very strong in the first act and can transition on a dime from belting out a song to comedic interpretations. Infinity cofounders Alan Ostroff and Anna Roberts Ostroff play the younger couple. While they match Dellger and Mecca in their vocals and acting, they also succeed in portraying a more naïve, innocent couple, giving Sinatra novices an inroad to his career, impact and appeal.
Musical director and pianist David Libby, bassist Stephen Palko and drummer Gary Tillman are excellent, maintaining a smooth, cabaret club rhythm for the night’s music.
Staged on a simple set of several levels and platforms, highlighted by an oversize Sinatra graphic that is spot-on for a 1960s’ graphic, the production gives the singer/actors leave to make the most of dramatic poses and diverse points of focus to keep the momentum moving.
In a 60-year performing career, Sinatra sang lots of songs. The songs selected for My Way have both pluses and minuses. One minus: Along with the obvious, iconic Sinatra songs, such as “New York, New York,” “All the Way” and “That’s Life” are songs less defined by him. For example, other singers have made their mark with songs such as “I’ll be Seeing You” and “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.” Their inclusion weakens the impact.
The plus is that all the songs selected are powerful story-songs, the kind whose vogue seems to have passed. It is a delight to be carried away by beautiful lyrics sung and acted by such a strong quartet.
This season of Infinity Theatre is dedicated to the memory of the late Robert Kauffman, a local director who influenced many lives, including this reviewer and Annapolis native Anna Roberts Ostroff, who he directed and whose recommendation brought Infinity Theatre to Annapolis. Bob would have been proud of what Infinity Theatre is presenting.
Conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson. Book by Todd Olson. Directed by Matthew Schneider. Music direction and piano by David Libby; bass by Stephen Palko; percussion by Gary Tillman.
Playing thru July 10 at 8pm ThF; 8pm and 2pm Sa; 2pm Su at Children’s Theatre of Annapolis, Bay Head Park, 1661 Bay Head Rd., Annapolis. $18-$35: 877-501-8499; www.infinitytheatrecompany.com.