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My Way

Fifty-six Frank Sinatra songs get the spotlight in a revue that never gets past the surface

Eight fantastic performers give Sinatra his due in My Way. Photo credit: Kat Dollarhide

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As the program note in Tacoma Musical Playhouse's production of My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra warns you, do not come to this show seeing someone depict Sinatra's life. Unlike Buddy -- The Buddy Holly Story, which was previously put up at TMP, My Way is not a biography; instead of seeing big events in Sinatra's life dramatized, what we get is a musical revue, featuring eight talented performers, a cracking three-piece band, and some tidbits of Sinatra facts sprinkled in between medleys.

All told, 56 Sinatra songs are performed, with some of them getting the full treatment, and others collected in thematically linked medleys. Just like any other revue, your enjoyment of the proceedings will likely hinge on your appreciation of the artist. Whereas Smokey Joe's Cafe -- another revue -- benefitted from being an overview of the relatively eclectic songwriting career of Leiber and Stoller, My Way sometimes suffers from exclusively covering Sinatra's songs, which lack the variety necessary to buoy a two-hour show and keep it compelling. If you're a big Sinatra fan, though, you may be able to take the show in as a loving compilation of his biggest hits. As one of the older audience members in my vicinity noted, it was hard for her to keep from singing along.

My Way's greatest strength comes from its performers: four couples assembled in a makeshift juke joint. Nancy Herbert Back, Jonathan Bill, Mauro Bozzo, Colin Briskey, Jessica Hanson, Allyson Jacobs-Lake, Mark Rae-Marona, and Tasha Smith make up the cast, with Jeffery Stvrtecky, Jessie Kuras, and Iris McBride providing the musical accompaniment. To a one, the cast gives off enough charm to bolster the sometimes stilted dialogue, and their voices were pristine, with some choosing to emulate Sinatra, and others providing their own takes on songs that will be familiar to practically everyone. As the spirit of the show is to present Sinatra's music as he intended it, though, there's very little in the way of straying from the songs' established sound.

The looser the performers got, the better the show did. Seeing as how so much of My Way's success hinges on the chemistry between the performers, and their chemistry with the audience, the show only improved as it went along, and as the actors eased up on the rigidity of the choreography and the patter. There was a clear divide toward the end of act one, when Jacobs-Lake legitimately broke and laughed at a particular line, which immediately lent a sense of warmth and camaraderie to the show. The closer My Way comes to feeling like a party, the more relaxed and, counter-intuitively, invested the audience can get (see: the cast taking a break from drinking apple juice in rocks glasses, and actually drinking champagne toward the end of the night).

Those who love Sinatra will find plenty to like in My Way, but will probably learn nothing about his life that they didn't already know. This is a surface-level exploration of a complicated artist, but the tunes and the actors may be enough to carry it.

MY WAY, 7:30 p.m., Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m., Sundays, through Feb. 25, $22-$31, Tacoma Musical Playhouse, 7116 6th Ave., Tacoma, 253.565.6876,

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