Oakmont Lions Club offers tribute to Frank Sinatra in this year's fundraising show
When your town police chief, mayor and barber are in your show, you just might have the epitome of a community production.
The Oakmont Lions Club will offer just that in “Sinatra,” its 57th annual choral-and-variety show that, this year, pays tribute to the music and life of Ol' Blue Eyes from Friday through Sunday in Tenth Street School auditorium, Oakmont.
The longest-running offering of its kind in the Alle-Kiski Valley, the show yearly takes the fun route to raising needed monies for Lions charities, including those for the sight-impaired.
This year brings more song, dance and humor.
“I feel, as chief of police, it is important to be involved in such a time-honored tradition for such a good cause,” says David DiSanti Sr., who also is a Lion. “We get to learn from each other, share views with each other and learn how to work well together. That can only help a community be stronger,” he adds.
The depth of volunteer commitment — no one is paid — is priceless, he says.
“I have friends in the music field who have come to this show and are extremely impressed with what a fine production it is,” DiSanti says.
One of his favorite Sinatra tunes is “Time After Time,” because his mother loves the song. And, the baritone will render a solo of the number.
The chief says “My Way” reflects his personal values “of doing what is right even in the face of opposition.”
“This is a feel-good show, with great music that is as enjoyable today as it was when Frank recorded it,” he says.
Mayor Bob Fescemyer will have a cameo performance in the spirited opening number, “New York, New York.”
Barber Joe Cosnotti returns as master of ceremonies.
“He will be the spirit of Frank Sinatra, telling us how everyone loved him and still does, and tries to be him, and, of course, how he did it all his way!” choreographer and performer Anne Dapra says. “The audience loves seeing these people, different from their daily routine, up on stage,” she says.
She appreciates that Sinatra's body of work includes a variety beyond just his signature material.
“It gives the cast a lot to choose from,” Dapra says.
One of her favorites is Sinatra's “I Love a Piano.”
“This will be the first time our director, Sue Lowery, will be on stage with the cast. She will play, as we all sing. It's such a fun and catchy tune, a crowd pleaser for sure.”
There are many reasons why Sinatra's songs are considered timeless, she says, including the fact the songs were composed by “tried-and-true” successful writers.
“They were not one-song-Johnnies who had one hit and receded into history. These songwriters were, themselves, timeless and classic because of years and years of experience and success,” Lowery says.
The themes had broad appeal, too.
“Every generation falls in love. Love never goes out of style. There are still birds and bees flying around,” she says.
Everyone is excited about singing Sinatra, Nancee Federici says.
“Every generation continues to know about him and can relate to his style, as his music covers every part of life,” she says.
The songs are comfortable, “like a well-worn slipper,” says Deb Ormay, making her show debut. “Music is a way we mark time in our lives,” she says. “Sinatra's music reminds folks of their youth.”
Lowery is confident the audience will be pleased with the variety in this production, including The Lions Players' skit spoofing Sinatra and the Rat Pack, two performances by the Fairgrieve School of Dance, and the 3 Js' (Jamie Dapra Lydick, Julie Dapra Beck and Jennifer Lear) delivering a Nancy Sinatra medley, including “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.”
As orchestra director, Lowery personally writes every note the musicians play, an effort that reaches about 250 hours of donated effort.
“I cannot conceive a show without the soaring strings, soothing flutes, leading brass or colorful woodwinds,” she says. “Many in the orchestra are music teachers, many play in other groups such as the Edgewood Symphony and the Johnstown Symphony.”
Although there are many stage and choir productions locally, cast member Genevieve “Gene” Flanery says, “I don't know of any shows quite like the Lions Club's.” She began singing in the production in 1958. “I love to hear the sound of blended voices,” she says.
“We make great music together,” Sara Gildersleeve says. “I love giving back to a community that I love. I love the memories I have of this place, and the people who have touched me here, and it's the best way I have of saying ‘thank you' to them.”
Rex Rutkoski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4664 or firstname.lastname@example.org