Just like its previous show, Thunder Bay Theatre has returned to a musical revue from recent seasons past. Where last month's "Smokey Joe's Cafe" focused on the tunes of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, this final production of the summer, "The Rat Pack Lounge," covers the hits of legendary crooners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.
Writers James Hindman and Ray Roderick employed a clever gimmick to wrap the songs around - it's God herself who makes it all happen. In true "It's a Wonderful Life" fashion, a down and out nightclub owner played by Zachariah Clement considers ending his life when God intervenes.
Heard from high above the rafters, God (the voice of Heather Nordenbrock) lets it be known that Frank, Dean and Sammy must leave their cushy spots in heaven and return to earth to right an old wrong. The catch is, they must inhabit the bodies of three other guys who happen to be at the nightclub.
These three, played by Paul Docter as Frankie, Michael Idalski as Sammy and Mackenzie Fountain as Dean, are more than a little surprised at this turn of events, but they ultimately embrace this "heaven sent swingin' musical" opportunity. The three take their turns singlely and collectively yucking it up and belting out signature songs from days gone by.
Though Docter, Idalski and Fountain don't look anything at all like the famous Rat Pack, the show's intention is that through mannerisms, body language and song, they channel Frankie, Sammy and Dean. Also thrown into the mix is an Angie Dickinson character played by Jacqueline Vier.
TBT went the extra mile with its nightclub set, making it one of the best in recent memory. Special lighting and sounds effects also enhanced the production.
Musicians Tyler Kivel on keyboard, Courtney Marshall on sax, Barry Wentz on bass and Jeffry Kuznicki, Jr./Courtney Wicklund on drums make up the band that winds its way through such classics as "Come Fly With Me," "That's Amore," "You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You" and "My Way."
"The Rat Pack Lounge" ends a three-month transition period at TBT in between former Artistic Director J.R. Rodriguez and newly hired AD Kevin Reams. Remaining performances are Aug. 14-18 with show times at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call the TBT box office at 354-2267.