Review – Sinatra: The Final Curtain

August 18, 2013 | By More

★★★☆☆  Crowdpleaser with potential

Whitespace (Venue 116): Fri 9 – Sat 24 August 2013 (not Mons)
Review by Hugh Simpson

Kingdom Productions’ Sinatra: The Final Curtain is a crowd-pleasing entertainment, which is deservedly playing to packed crowds at Whitespace in Gayfield Square.

The premise of the show is a simple one. Frank Sinatra, in hospital at the end of his life, looks back over his career. In truth, there is very little drama here. John Murray’s script is really just an excuse to introduce a selection of songs and anyone unfamiliar with the career of The Chairman Of The Board would not learn much.

Moray Innes (the concert Frank). Photo: Kingdom Theatre

Moray Innes (the concert Frank). Photo: Kingdom Theatre

However, the music is outstanding. Any worry that these would be karaoke-style renditions is immediately dispelled. Alan Murrie, who plays the younger version of Frank and handles the majority of the singing, is melodic and versatile, summoning up the spirit of Sinatra without appearing like an impersonator. Moray Innes, who plays the older version, is elegantly and emotively tuneful; he also manages to keep the momentum suavely going in the between-songs dialogue, despite lying in a hospital bed.

Much of the other onstage action needs a little tweaking, however. Jennie Walker, who is one of two performers alternating the role of Rosie, Sinatra’s nurse, makes great efforts in a role that seems inconsistently written. The story is bookended by two visits from Sinatra’s wife Barbara (Sadie Paton) and friend Tony (Tony Delicata, who also provides the no-nonsense, thoroughly effective direction). Once again, although they both do sterling work, their presence adds little to the story

The musical climax to the show is extremely effective but the dramatic finale is less so, depending as it does on a level of attention to the patient which would shame the most overworked hospital. Surely Ol’ Blue Eyes would have had better treatment?

Potential for something even better

In the end, this seems as much a concert with extended introductions as a fully-fledged musical play; but with excellent renditions of One For My Baby, In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning and a particularly touching It Was A Very Good Year among others, it works very well. There is also potential for something even better here. The particularly ingenious thing about the show’s construction is that it could be extended much further with the addition of more songs – and there are plenty to choose from.

What seemed, in a hot, cramped fringe venue, to be about ten minutes too long could – paradoxically – work better if it was nearly twice as long in a theatre with an interval. This could give the show room to breathe, adding five or six more numbers and a modified script that showed a more rounded portrait of a very complex individual.

Move the showstopper New York, New York, where Old Frank rose from his bed to lead the audience brilliantly in a singalong, to the end of the first act, and you would have a show that could tour forever. This would give the two Franks in this show the exposure they obviously deserve.

Running time 1 hour 15 minutes
Run ends Sat 24 August 2013
Daily (not Mon) at 8.15 pm
Venue 116, Whitespace, 11 Gayfield Square, EH1 3NT
Tickets from www.edfringe.com
Company website: thefinalcurtain

ENDS

 

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