Apparently this town isn't quite big enough for two sets of Franks, Deans and Sammys - Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jr, that is. Rat Pack Confidential, which opened last month in direct competition to the existing The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas, has posted early closing notices in the West End (See News, 20 Aug 2003).

The Nottingham Playhouse production transferred to the Whitehall Theatre - which had been closed "indefinitely" on 12 July 2003, at the end of the 30th anniversary run of Abigail's Party (See News, 26 Jun 2003) - on 18 September 2003 (previews from 16 September 2003) and had been booking up to 6 December 2003. It will now close on 15 November.

Unlike the other Rat Pack - a tribute concert compilation show, with look and sound-alikes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr crooning cool classics - Rat Pack Confidential is the stage play, adapted by Paul Sirett from the controversial 1999 group biography of the same name, written by American journalist and chronicler Shawn Levy.

In addition to the aforementioned trio, the play encompasses lower profile Rats Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop and explores the group's connections with both the Kennedys and the Mafia, as well as a swirl of film stars, hookers, narcotics and lots of booze. Rat Pack Confidential tells the group's story, while also featuring a live band and a clutch of famous period tunes like "Come Fly With Me", "The Lady Is a Tramp", "Let's Face the Music and Dance", "Volaré" and "My Way".

The stage play premiered in September 2002 in Nottingham, where it returned for a limited August engagement before its West End transfer. The five-strong cast of actor-musicians features Richard Shelton as Frank Sinatra, Alex Giannini as Dean Martin, Paul Sharma as Sammy Davis Jnr, Robin Kingsland as Peter Lawford and Kevin Colson as Joey Bishop.

The production is directed by Playhouse artistic director Giles Croft and designed by Mark Bailey, with lighting by Jeanine Davis, sound by Paul Stear, choreography by Sam Spencer Lane and musical direction by John Morton. It's presented in the West End by Ed Crozier and Matthew Gale, in a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse and Bolton's Octagon Theatre.

Meanwhile, following its initial run at the West End's Theatre Royal Haymarket, The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas looks to be settling in for a longer run at the Strand Theatre, where it opened on 26 June 2003 and is now booking up to 31 January 2004. Special seasonal performances will begin on 27 November (See News, 23 Oct 2003).

- by Terri Paddock