Memories of the Rat Pack
Review by Sue Gallant
They set the style and pace for 1950’s America. They were known collectively as The Rat Pack. They were: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop. A live musical tribute to the first three and most famous members of The Pack, delighted audiences at the Harbourfront Jubilee Theatre in Summerside this July and August.
Memories of The Rat Pack, co-created, directed and managed by Chris McHarge, is a polished, entertaining, professional, and downright enjoyable show. How disappointing for Jubilee management it must be therefore, that certainly on the second-from-lastshow, the 528-seat theatre was probably less than one half full.
McHarge, a native of Hamilton, Ontario, has been directing in Canada for over 15 years. He is the co-creator of a number of musical tribute shows besides Memories of The Rat Pack, including Doowop to Motown, Memories of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline, and Impressions of the Moulin Rouge—all have toured extensively in Canada.
Memories of The Rat Pack, performed in two fifty minute acts, is a celebration of the lives and music of the legendary three. The audience learns about the men and their times pre-Beatle mania, and is treated to thirty of the threesome’s more popular songs.
Those in the audience too young to remember the fifties with any clarity, may be assured that Sinatra, Martin and Davis Jr., mannerisms, appearance and comedic timing, were replicated on stage with astounding accuracy.
In real life, Sinatra was King Rat: on stage at The Jubilee, Martin (played by Derek Marshall), usurped him. Marshall crooned and swooned, constantly flashing a set of perfect pearly whites, as he flirted with the audience; all the while staggering drunkenly, in true Martin style. Marshall hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia. His bio boasts a BA from Dalhousie and a diploma in musical theatre performance from Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario.
Shane Philips (Davis Jr.), is billed on Memories of the Rat Pack promotional literature, as one of Canada’s most promising soul artists. On stage at The Jubilee, Philips' performance almost equalled Marshall’s—but not quite.
Last, but not least, the singing and acting abilities of Dean Hollin (Frank Sinatra) were superb. Unlike Marshall and Philips though, somehow or other Hollin didn’t quite make the grade visually with regard to the character he was playing.
Memories of The Rat Pack was a terrific show with talented performers; well-worth the $30 ticket seat admission price, certainly for the more affluent tourist, and even for those of us struggling along on an Atlantic Canadian living allowance.