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Saturday, June 30, 2018

That’s Life - The Frank Sinatra Story @ Whitley Bay Playhouse - June 29

Frank Cognoscenti  as Frank Sinatra; Stuart Collingwood (MD, piano); ? (trumpet); Jamie Toms (reeds); ? (trombone); Neil Harland (double bass); ? (drums).
(Review by Russell)
The early years, the Capitol years, Live at the Sands, the later years, the story of Francis Albert Sinatra. This multi-media theatre show is the creation of Sinatra fan Frank Cognoscenti. Working with an array of talented musicians (several of the north east’s finest answered Cognoscenti's call to join him on stage at Whitley Bay Playhouse), the show’s creator endeavours to recreate something of the magic associated with one of the iconic figures of the twentieth century.
Looking the part in a Rat Pack tuxedo, Cognoscenti apologised to the audience saying Mr Sinatra was unable to fulfil this evening’s engagement and he would do his level best as a last minute stand in. The twenty-first-century entertainer won over an adoring crowd from the word go. And ‘entertainer’ perfectly describes Mr C; the casual, nonchalant manner and, crucially, the voice to make you think, for a couple of hours or so, that Sinatra was in the house.
An on-stage screen projected images of Sinatra from his earliest days in Hoboken, initial success with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, then on to the career-defining Capitol years. Night and Day to I Only Have Eyes for You, the Las Vegas engagements, all the while Cognoscenti singing as convincingly as anyone is ever likely to, the sound of Sinatra was in the house.
The Mob and the women in Sinatra’s life – particularly Ava Gardner – were very much part of the story with Cognoscenti briefly exiting the stage from time to time as on-screen visuals were accompanied by a sonorous commentary documenting the many twists and turns, chapter upon chapter.
Cognoscenti/Sinatra in profile in front of a simple, plain board proved particularly effective (see photo). This was Sinatra in iconic pose, vintage mic stand, an imagined studio setting. Hey! Look, over there, in the wings, is that Nelson Riddle? I’ve Got the World on a String (by this time the audience couldn’t help but sing along!), Come Fly with Me, the numbers just kept on coming.

The on-stage sextet did everything required of it although it was never quite let off the leash, perhaps constrained to some extent by the use of strings (as heard on the original recordings). Several of the boys in the band used earpieces or headphones to ensure synchronicity with the soundtrack. Frank, that’s Mr Cognoscenti to you, is a fine interpreter of Francis Albert Sinatra. The next time That’s Life comes to town make sure you catch the show, you will be guaranteed a great night out.  
Russell                   

1 comment :

Patti said...

And what a night it was - wonderful ...... close your eyes, and it was Mr Blue Eyes singing! The band was great too, directed by Mr Piano Man, Stu Collingwood. Neil H was class in the rhythm section, and Jamie T was excellent! Maybe somebody will be able to give us the names of the trumpet and trombone guys??

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