Truth be told, I was never a big fan of the Rat Pack. I thought Frank Sinatra was a vainglorious male chauvinist, Dean Martin a boring slurry-voiced drunk, and Sammy Davis Jr. an overly sentimental toady. Of course, they were talented, and most of the songs they sang were beautiful, but they have been done to death and repackaged in trite covers. Consequently, I wasn’t looking forward to an evening of “Sammy, Tonight!” but, hallelujah! De’zhon Fields has shown me a sign, made me eat my words and happily wash them down with a dry martini.
Developed by Fields and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe Artistic Director, Nate Jacobs, the production features a classy combo of tuxedoed guys and glamorous gals, draped in matte black-jersey gowns, sporting lots of sparkles. The ambience created made the audience believe they were nursing their scotch on the rocks and breathing smoky air in a Las Vegas nightclub in the ’50s. Under the musical direction of James Dodge II, the musicians include Dodge on bass guitar; Jamar D. Camp on the auxiliary keys; Nathan Mitchell on the piano; James Stewart on the alternate piano; and Xavier Murray on drums. The fabulous female back-up singers include Tsadok Porter and Eboni Lavender.
Dazzling with talent and bedazzled with Davis’ signature diamonds, Fields casts a magnificent glow as star of the show. He does Sammy to a “T” and shines with his own special light besides. His “Mr. Bojangles” was my favorite, done sans mawkishness, a nuanced delight. Fields’ career began at the age of 10, and his polished dancing and powerful voice reflect his years of experience in Los Angeles, his starring role in “Cinderella Brown” and training with dance champion Sonya Cortez. He began touring the world as Sammy Davis Jr. in 2002. I’d love to see him in a one-man show as himself.
IF YOU GO
“Sammy’ Tonight! A Tribute To Sammy Davis Jr.” runs through April 1, at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. Tickets are $28. Call 366-1505.
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