James Hindman and Ray Roderick’s The Rat Pack Lounge is predominantly a concert tribute to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. That’s a good thing, because what plot there is seems to be a mashup of It’s a Wonderful Life and Forever Plaid that’s both bizarre and bizarrely complicated.
Here’s the plot, such as it is. The Rat Packers, all happily dwelling in Heaven, are ordered by God to return to earth to stop the suicide of Vic Candelino, a disillusioned nightclub owner on the Vegas strip whose business is failing. If they don’t succeed in their mission, God warns, they’ll spend the rest of the eternity burning in hell – with Peter Lawford!
Frank had heard young Vic years before and had assured him that he’d have a great singing career, but it never materialized. Now, in Vic’s time of need, the Chairman and his pals find themselves back on terra firma to correct the error.
Since they magically popped into the bodies of three guys who just happened to be at the club when they arrived, they need to prove to Vic that they’re really Frank, Dino and Sammy in order to convince him to become a headliner in his own right.
This conceit also helps to explain away the fact that none of the actors actually looks like the character he’s portraying.
It’s silly stuff, but director Jonathan Pennington has fun with the off-the-wall material, and his easygoing cast goes along with the gag. Happily, Hindman and Roderick have also thrown in some corny jokes and banter for the performers to toss around. It’s when the cast starts to sing, however, that the show really springs to life.
Ryan Guerra makes for a smooth Sinatra, possessing a silken voice and the Chairman’s delivery. Dwight Robinson is also fun as Sammy, tossing off lines like, “Hey! I can see through both eyes now!” Sean Salazar is a dead-on Dino, perfectly recreating Martin’s vocal inflections as well as his constant state of happy inebriation. As Vic, Chad Collins convincingly makes the transformation from off-key croaker to dreamy crooner, and Lauren Mitchell is a sexy siren in the personage of Angie, an angel sent from Heaven to help Vic along.
The entire second act is virtually a concert, allowing audiences ample opportunity to enjoy all the performers’ singing as they takes turns delivering such standards as Come Fly with Me, My Way, Ain’t that a Kick in the Head?, What Kind of Fool Am I? and more. They’re accompanied by Luvine Elias Jr.’s excellent three-piece band.
The Rat Pack Lounge plays Fridays at 8:00 p.m., Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. through February 5 at the Roxie Theatre, 7460 Callaghan Road, Suite 333. Tickets can be obtained online or by calling (210) 360-9180.