Steve Wynn, over at the Wynn and Encore, knows a good thing when he sees it. Wynn knew Frank Sinatra back in the day and decided that he needed to class up the Wynn by creating a restaurant Frank would have liked, and he called it Sinatra. Along with Elvis, Sinatra is a name that still has resonance here and many believe that Vegas lost something when she lost Sinatra.
But Vegas has never really lost Sinatra. He and the so-called Rat Pack are remembered in several shows around town. One of the best is called Shades of Sinatra, now playing at the Clarion, which used to be Debbie Reynolds’s casino called the Greek Isles. Sinatra recorded some 1,700 songs but the group has chosen the best plus a few less familiar and put 30 of them into a humdinger of a show.
I had seen one member of the group, Lisa Smith, when she performed at Sterling’s Upstairs at Vitello’s with an all-girl trio they call Dangerous Curves. Lisa is a wonderful jazz singer with a background in theatre. Being the only female in the group she adds glamour, some sexual tension, and theatrical experience.
Carmine Mandia has been a featured singer throughout New York, Philadelphia, and Vegas. He has a suave presence and singing style. Larry Liso is a very different kind of singer, having headlined at nightclubs and cabarets around the country. He brings a bit of a bad-boy image to the mix as well and some Italian brio. He does many bits with the audience and wanders around with a glass of booze like Dean Martin did as part of the Rat Pack.
Ryan Baker is the youngest member of the group and sounds the most like Sinatra. This is not surprising in that he has played Sinatra before in other shows. Together these three men seemed to represent the “shades” of Sinatra at different ages and at various stages of his long career.
Besides being terrific singers, the group also clowns around with the audience and each other in true Rat Pack style. Shades of Sinatra is a highly entertaining group and can be seen currently at the intimate Wolf Theater at the Clarion Hotel in Las Vegas.