Monday, April 22

The Rat Pack at Christmas – Cadogan Hall

I’m not sure who the target audience for The Rat Pack at Christmas might be, but as an ex-acid house raver who likes experimental theatre, it probably isn’t yours truly. However, ‘tis the season to embrace cheesy fare, flashback nostalgia and family entertainment. Unsure of what to expect, the lure of hearing a big band in Cadogan Hall proved enough to park chilly misgivings and hand myself over to the festive spirit.

The Manhattan Swing Orchestra were tight and glorious. The acoustics of Cadogan Hall are superb for live music and the setting is on brand and perfect, a Byzantine Revival style ex-church by architect Robert Fellowes Chisholm. 

Stephen Triffitt plays Frank Sinatra and gets away with it. As long as one doesn’t focus on the detail, it’s a faithful rendition. He’s got a look that is Frankish, and he sounds like the crooner too. Triffitt has a harder job living up to the sheer power that Sinatra had as a presence. With swirling vibes of the Mob, Monroe and the Kennedys, Ole ‘Blue Eyes brought a unique kind of electricity to a room. That’s a tall order to recreate. 

Dean Martin is brought to us by Mark Adams, who really showed his mimicking chops when performing the classic Volare. He did a bit of business in reference to Martin’s colossal drink problem, but they might have played around with that a bit more. By all accounts, there was chaos, fights and shambling shows caused by the boozing. There’s no harm in mining that kind of drama and at times, this show could do with boost of that.

Bringing joyous eye-catching action to the stage were the sensational backing singers, The Golddiggers. Those three women absolutely served. They had the ‘60s bouffant hair, liquid eyeliner and vintage mini dresses. The trio sang and danced with a camp gusto that was a delight to behold. I may have been listening to a Christmas duet by a pseudo–Dean Martin and semi-Frank Sinatra, but I was watching The Golddiggers. Give those girls a raise.

George Daniel Long plays Sammy Davis Jnr. and brings a stage presence to the show that evokes the kind of Vegas pizzazz one hopes for in a tribute performance. Long never stood still, grooving about the stage and riffing with The Golddiggers like a showbiz aficionado. His rendition of Mr Bojangles was a moving highlight. It brought a tentative tear to this cynical eye, ‘cause Long seemed to feel the sadness of the song in every bone in his body. One might say he channelled the spirit of Jnr. 

If you’re looking for show to take an auntie or grandparent to and can’t bear potentially adding to landfill, take ‘em to The Rat Pack at Christmas. It’s a perfect gift, supporting live musicians and hard-working performers. There’s plenty to sing a long to and it’s cheaper than flying to Vegas and easier than building a time machine.

Reviewer: Stewart Who?

Reviewed: 18th December 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★