315 West 44th Street, NYC
Gianni Valenti, Owner
Andy Kaufman, Business Manager
Tarik Osman, Manager
Produced by Jack Lewin
Public Relations: Tony Origlio
Starring: Hilary Kole, Vocalist
Tony DeSare, Vocals and Piano
Adam James, Vocalist
Andy Eulau, Bass
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
January 1, 2004
Birdland is the perfect Club for Our Sinatra, a musical review that moved from Blue Angel and celebrates the best of Sinatra, without the over-publicized iconic songs, such as My Way, but with the signature pieces, such as The Way You Look Tonight and Chicago. The trio of Hilary Cole, a strong, sexy stage presence (with three stunning costumes in black and silver, all red, and mostly white), Tony DeSare, who plays a driving keyboard and can belt out Sinatra's crooning ballads, and Adam James, a young, spunky vocalist/raconteur, who educates the Sinatra fans with story clips and asides that enhance the ambiance of memories and melodies, are well suited to one another and have a passion for Frank Sinatra's (See Bio) music and persona. Andy Eulau, on bass, lends just the right touch, with his instantaneous ability to switch mood and motif, as the piano trio goes from Lady is a Tramp to Here's that Rainy Day. (Some song titles may approximate the actual titles).
This one-act show creates many different emotional effects, with bright red lighting, after Hilary leaps atop the piano in a long, red dress, and the trio sings on a blackened stage, and with upbeat switching of keys and lyrics, as Adam and Hilary sing Without a Song. The show began with The Song Is You, as each singer was introduced onstage, followed by The Way You Look Tonight, with Tony's impassioned performance at the piano. Adam donned a sailor's cap for music from Anchors Aweigh. In fact, there were many short asides, relating to Sinatra's films and show business successes, mostly told by Adam, but also in the personal vignettes of Hilary and Tony.
I Fall In Love Too Easily was evocative, and Hilary was sensational in Tender Trap. When Tony sang All the Way from the 1953 film, From Here to Eternity, the Club stood still. Chicago was wonderful, with the trio belting out this standard in three-part harmony, and New York, New York was not far behind. Hilary and Adam were adorable in Nice and Easy, and Hilary delivered an exceptional rendition of I'm a Fool To Want You. Adam came into his own in Ol' Man River, with extended final notes, and Hilary was compelling in One For the Road. Adam's torch song was For Once in My Life, one of my favorites, and he created a melancholy mood for this soulful piece.
Andy Eulau was featured in I've Got the World on a String, as he took an alternating theme on his bass with Hilary's Scat, atop Tony's piano, and then Tony took the limelight with his special solo, Birth of the Blues. This trio played on the one-girl two-guy theme, a bit, with body gestures and asides, such as in The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else, and they lent levity and theatrics to a lovely evening of familiar musical standards. For the "mother of all medleys…Happy Valentine's Day", Hilary, Tony, and Adam sang bits and pieces of Sinatra favorites, all tied together with similar words, themes, music, or unique ideas. Included in this medley were Fly Me to the Moon, The Lady is a Tramp, Here's that Rainy Day, All or Nothing, and The Best is Yet to Come.
Toward the end of the show, all three loosened up a bit and sang in Sinatra-like dialect, with strong, final consonants and Hoboken accents. Their gestures and facial demeanors were Sinatra-esque, and "Da" Summer Wind, The Second Time Around, and Young at Heart could have been Sinatra et al, some 50 years ago. Our Sinatra ended the way it began, with The Song Is You, and a standing ovation was automatic. Kudos to Jack Lewin for producing this superb production, and kudos to Hilary Kole, Tony DeSare, Adam James, and Andy Eulau for their musical virtuosity and vivacious performance.
Our Sinatra has been extended at Birdland through March 2004. Call 212.239.6200 to order tickets for this often sold-out show. You will leave humming The Best is Yet to Come, perfect for the New Year, 2004.
Adam James, Hilary Kole and Tony DeSare in Our Sinatra currently playing at Birdland.
Photo courtesy of Carol Rosegg, copyright 2003