It’s Good To See The Rat Pack Again at Theatre By The Sea

Jun 11, 2014

'The Rat Pack Show' is at Theatre by the Sea through June 22nd.
Credit Courtesy Hackett Miller Company

Ahh, yes. How do I put this? If you are of a certain age, one that allows you to recognize the impact of names such as Dean and Joey and Sammy and, most of all, Frankie, well then you are probably going to enjoy “The Rat Pack Show” at Matunuck.

Produced by Sandy Hackett, son of the major 1950sCHK comedian, Buddy Hackett, it’s pretty much a charming throwback to those days when people dressed up to go to the theater, where they liked their jokes hot and quick, and no-body had ever heard of the internet or tweeting or flip-flops.

For “The Rat Pack” you see has managed both shamelessly and lovingly to dig up the Vegas-like style of Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. They come on stage in singles, pairs and groups, backed by a terrific band (complete with never ending 1950s background smoke machines). They tell jokes that are preposterably old but still very funny in the hands of theses first-rate comics.

And, they sing. Do titles such as such as “My Kind of Town,” “That Old Black Magic,” “Fly Me to the Moon” and “Luck Be a Lady” mean anything to you? If they do, then “The Rat Pack” will turn into the good guys for ya.

They are well-equipped actor/singer/comedians. Tom Wallek displays that knowing goofiness that was the trademark of Dean Martin. Louie Velez is reasonably close to the Sammy Davis combo of sincerity and cheek while Danny Grewen sings Sinatra with quiet panache.  And, best of all, producer Hackett sings well enough and is absolutely superior as a hard-eyed comic.

The real secret is that they are all pros. They don’t just copy the men they are playing. They suggest a remembrance and put themselves in there as well. Add to that comic timing as crisp as it was in ‘50s. The four gently pick on the audience and get, somewhat, off-color, as we used to say. But the laughter compounds.

Not all of the jokes work, of course, but the guys make an asset of that, too. One hilarious episode concerns their trying to navigate Rhode Island’s own goofy road, Rt. 1 in South County, where going east means turning west, if you take my meaning.

Finally, a confession. Driving down Rt. 1 to Matunuck my thoughts were along the line of “Do we really need the Rat Pack all over again?” Well, I guess we don’t “need” them. But in this quick and funny and well sung show the answer becomes, “why not?” It’s good to see the Pack again. Hear the wise guy cracks ripple again. And, surely, luxuriate in all those sublime songs, again.  If you happen to be in that certain age criteria, I think you know what I mean.

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