Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts
Kansas City, Missouri
May 27 – June 1, 2014
Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Ah, Las Vegas in the 1960s. It still had the lure of mystery and DEFINITELY wasn’t kid friendly. If you were lucky, you could head to the Sands Hotel and take in the hottest show in town featuring a quartet of entertainers whose talents could never be topped. They were known as the Rat Pack – and for a few hours in Kansas City, they were back!
We were greeted by the jovial “voice of God.” And if you’re in Las Vegas who better to portray your deity then Buddy Hackett. As the voice of the late, great comedian comes through the speakers the audience is transported back five decades. The spotlight hits center stage and there they are: Funny man Joey Bishop (Sandy Hackett), the “King of Cool,” Dean Martin (Tom Wallek), the “Candyman,” Sammy Davis, Jr. (Louie Velez) and, of course, the “Chairman of the Board,” Francis Albert Sinatra (Danny Grewen). After a group opening number, entitled “Hello Again,” the audience is treated to some great one liners courtesy of Joey/Hackett. The son of the great Buddy Hackett, the comedy genes run deep in this family. The timing is spot on as is the quick wit, evident when some “Kansas City” themed jokes appear. The rest of the first act relies on the banter between Dean and Sammy as the two trade musical numbers. The act ends with the silhouette of Sammy bathed in light.
Act two welcomes Frank back to the stage. After a great medley of some signature songs (“Come Fly With Me,” “You Make Me Feel So Young,” “Fly Me to the Moon”), Frank takes a quiet moment to think about the one that got away. This brings on an appearance by “Frank’s One Love” (Lisa Dawn Miller, like Hackett a producer of the show) Miller is the daughter of song writing legend Ron Miller, whose songs include “Touch Me in the Morning,” “I’ve Never Been to Me” and “For Once in My Life,” which Frank performs in the show. The rest of the act consists of more laughter and music.
I’m very fortunate (and old) in that I had the great opportunity to see both Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. perform before they passed away. With those memories in my head I naturally compared that experience to the one I had at this show. And I wasn’t disappointed. Grewen has that smooth, clear quality that made Sinatra extraordinary and Velez was spot-on perfect as Sammy Davis, Jr. Ms. Miller belted out her number with gusto, making herself a proud member of the group. If there was any disappointment it came courtesy of Tom Wallek’s Dean. He had the look and the mannerism’s down, but the voice just wasn’t right. During the on stage banter he sounded more like Johnny Carson then Dean Martin. A little quibble maybe, but something that someone like me, who grew up watching, and own on DVD, Martin’s classic television roasts. That being said, “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show” is a must-see for anyone that wants to recapture those magical days of yesterday!
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