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St. Vincent Summer Theatre's 'My Way' is simply about the music

| Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017, 4:00 p.m.
This April 9, 1974, file photo shows Frank Sinatra performing at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale, NY.  Sinatra, who died in 1998, at 82.
This April 9, 1974, file photo shows Frank Sinatra performing at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale, NY. Sinatra, who died in 1998, at 82.

St. Vincent Summer Theatre's production of “My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra” is much more than another musical revue of a famous song stylist's repertoire, according to Producing Artistic Director Greggory Brandt, who directs the show.

Instead, Brandt says, “It's like spending an evening with the soundtrack of some of the greatest music of the 20th century.”

And it's not just meant for diehard fans of “Ol' Blue Eyes.”

“It truly is for anyone, young or old, who appreciates powerful music, superb arrangements and easy-going comedy,” Brandt says. “Audiences will learn a little about the mystique of Frank Sinatra, but more importantly, the music he made famous.”

The tribute to the musical legend, which opens Aug. 3, does feature a lot of songs — more than 50 of them recorded by Sinatra and performed by a cast of two women and two men, representing different periods in his lifetime.

Portraying Sinatra in his early years is Eddie Brandt, while Allan Snyder takes on the artist's “Rat Pack” later years.

“What's distinctive about Frank in his middle and later years is how you could hear all of his life experience when he sang — the world weariness, but also the wonder and joy and appreciation of life,” Snyder says.

Snyder is making his first appearance at St. Vincent, while Eddie Brandt made his St. Vincent debut as Jack in “Into the Woods” in 2015 and returned in “Route 66” and “Cole” last season.

The show also features St. Vincent stage veteran Lara Hayhurst, who has appeared in “I Love a Piano” and “Lend Me a Tenor” during the 2013 season and in “Cole” last summer. Hayhurst says her character, “Woman 2,” exemplifies one of the female archetypes that Sinatra was fond of.

“He seemed to vacillate between coquettish blondes and vampy, soulful brunettes,” she says. “I think I'm embodying a kind of woman that suits a lot of Sinatra's lyrics, just as my cohort Blair Alexis Brown does the same for the more sultry, slinky tunes. My songs veer toward new, upbeat, optimistic love and I'm proud to sing about and delve into those kinds of emotions.”

Hayhurst says her biggest challenge in the show, besides learning a large volume of material and harmonies, is tackling the dance portion of her role.

“I had emergency spine surgery about two months ago and am slowly leaning back into my career as a dancer,” she says. “Our choreographer, Renata Marino, is incredibly kind and accommodating, but I also want to push myself a little and rediscover the joy I get when I'm dancing, that I haven't been able to experience for a few months now.”

A newcomer to St. Vincent, Brown has performed in many New York theater productions, including “City of Angels” and “First and Fairest.”

Greggory Brandt says “My Way” is an opportunity for the actors to pay respect to the famous singer without impersonating him, and for the audience to listen once again to “amazing renditions of his memorable songs.”

“Sinatra always said that the secret of his success was the ability to sing great songs – and that's simply what this show is about, the music,” the director says.

Candy Williams is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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