Sinatra Swings Back into London Palladium, 8 MarDate: 26 October 2005
As previously tipped (See The Goss, 11 Oct 2005), Ol’ Blue Eyes is being brought back to life to tell his story in his own words - thanks to video projections and digital imagery - in a new show paying tribute to the late Frank Sinatra at the West End’s London Palladium, where he first made his name in the UK.
At a launch today for Sinatra at the London Palladium - which will open on 8 March 2006 (previews from 17 February) - director David Leveaux, musical director Gareth Valentine and producer Joshua Rosenblum discussed how they put together a show in which the leading man is only available on film. “At least we know he’ll turn up for all the performances,” joked Leveaux.
Previously a hit in the US – where it was seen under the title Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way at New York’s Radio City Music Hall - the show combines recordings of Sinatra songs and giant screen projections from his many film and television appearances with a live orchestra and big dance numbers, which are being newly choreographed by Stephen Mear for the London production.
Valentine told Whatsonstage.com that his main motivation for working on the show was to have fun: “I am particularly going to have fun with this because I get to wear a costume and be on the stage. I’m a show off and I hate to be left out of the party. I like to dance around like I did in Chicago and Anything Goes. We have a 24-piece orchestra that’s on a truck, which does most of the work moving us around constantly – and then we have various screens flying in. Each section of the orchestra is on a hydraulic platform which lifts the musicians up and down. It’s like being on a waltzer at a fairground. And I have to coordinate it so they play in time with the projections. I do that with a click-track that clicks in my ear to give me the beats so it matches the original music with the live orchestra.”
Far from being worried about not being able to give his leading performer notes, Leveaux said he was relishing the show, despite being “one of the most technologically challenged directors in the West End.” He added: “This is not some earnest tribute or a biopic; it is definitely not that. It is just a celebration of Frank and it uses his own words to tell his story. He was a consummate professional, and there is nothing about his performances I would ever want to change.
“My main challenge with this is to make sure we have chosen the best material and prepared very well in advance, because as it is so technical, it is not like any other musical or play where you have a rehearsal period before the technical run. With this, we started off with the technical rehearsal. I also have to make it very human, despite all the technology, it’s the human story which has to come across.”
The creative team were joined at the launch today by Sinatra’s granddaughter, AJ Azzarto, who also acts as a consultant producer for the stage spectacle. She said: “I am tremendously proud and excited to be involved with this production.”
The Palladium’s current resident, Leslie Bricusse musical Scrooge, starring Tommy Steele, opens on 8 November 2005 (previews from 20 October) and finishes its limited Christmas season on 14 January 2006.
- by Caroline Ansdell