The Definitive Rat Pack was a show that was set to impress.
On a cool Tuesday night, the Grand Ballroom of One Farrer Hotel & Spa was buzzing with the hum of excited concertgoers, eager to have their fill of the iconic trio that is Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davies Junior.
Starring Stephen Triffitt, Mark Adams and George Daniel Long, they put up a show that was at once wistful as it was nostalgic, with a lively repertoire that brought the audience back to the romance, jolliness and charisma of the sixties.
Ushered into the ballroom, one was immediately struck by the welcoming sight of the band. The ballroom’s décor was suitably romantic: with an abundance of twinkling blue lights studded against dark fabric, the backdrop was reminiscent of a starry night sky, matching the evening’s atmosphere of old world charm perfectly.
The evening began on a jocular note, with a short and humorous address from Mr Gilbert Madhaven, General Manager of the venue, whose charm set the tone to the rest of the night.
Stephen Triffitt dazzled in his performance as Frank Sinatra, bounding on to the stage with the relentless yet controlled energy of a showman. Glass in hand, he began the show with a rousing rendition of the familiar classic ‘Come Fly With Me’, to the great enthusiasm of the audience.
Triffitt’s compelling vocals and mellow, charming confidence proved to be a hit – the audience was riveted, no doubt reliving their own fond memories of the song. Ending the song with a courtly, genteel salute, Triffitt segued smoothly into ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ –another crowd favourite–, before introducing fellow member Mark Adams. Adams as Martin was the epitome of a sixties charm, radiating suave and a debonair ease.
Humour was evidently another strong suit among all the performers – the trio regaled the audience with jokes about marriage and drinking, with good-natured ribbing that centered around another mainstay of the sixties jazz scene: alcohol. From their theatrics with the (admittedly well-stocked) alcohol cart, to their easy incorporation of props such as a red rose (flourished from where it’d been hidden in the grand piano, no less!) and fedoras, it’s evident that Triffitt, Adams and Long are virtuosos of their art, and seasoned veterans.
The show’s repertoire was varied and well chosen, from slower, romantic tunes such as ‘My Way’ (dedicated as a love song by Triffitt), to more upbeat ditties such as ‘Volare’ and ‘Come Fly With Me’.
If there’s one thing that struck a chord, it was the transitions between each number. The show was punctuated by withy epithets between each song, as the different members of the trio took turns to banter with the audience, and one another. Dramatic interruptions to the performance –a clear part of the show’s routine– also acted as an effective segue between numbers, and the trio displayed great wit as well as familiarity with their routine, joking with ease.
Dubbed an “uncannily convincing Sammy Davis Junior” by the Daily Mail, it’s no wonder that George Daniel Long has earned that label – he exuded an effortless charm and charisma as Sammy Davies Junior, lending the stage a breath of energy as he danced and twirled effortlessly, even using the standing microphone as a prop, and proved to be just as good a vocalist as he was with his dance moves, with a voice that was soulful and compelling.
The second half of the performance saw renowned West End performer, Hannah Lindsey gracing the stage, her lithe figure belying her powerful vocals. Sheathed in a black skirt and furry top, her dressing embodied the height of the sixties and seventies fashion, a theme that was consistently reflected in the rest of the cast’s costumes as well, with the band and Triffitt, Adams and Long sporting suits and tuxedos.
Lindsey wowed the crowd with her sleek and sensual dance moves, starting her first number – The Nancy Sinatra Medley – with the infamous first few lines of ‘Bang Bang’ (“I was five and she was six / We rode on horses made of sticks”), with her husky, sultry voice that would have done Sinatra proud. ‘Something Stupid’ was another number that got the audience swaying along to the show – a slow, sweet song, Triffitt and Lindsey emanated father-daughter charm with each harmony.
One especially commendable point was the show’s incorporation of musicians’ roles as well – as the teasing notes of the chorus to ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ swelled, the trio jazzed up (pun intended) the routine by including the musicians through the trombone’s solo, and it was both heartening and notable that the show took special care in sharing the limelight with the musicians. It’s not often that one sees a performance that takes the effort to dedicate more attention to the band as well, and this attention to detail was what made the show truly shine. It was evident that all the performers took pride in their work, playing each piece with gusto from beginning to end.
The night ended with the lingering, wistful notes of their penultimate number, ‘My Way’, that gave way to the stirring tunes of ‘New York, New York’, making the audience believe just for a moment (as they once did, back in their youth) that they could, indeed, make it anywhere.
The evening was a blast from the past, and one that clearly resonated with the audience, considering the standing ovation and calls for an encore from the enthusiastic crowd, who one may argue, is the fourth member of the Definitive Rat Pack.