ALHAMBRA AFTER DARK with “The Rat Pack”

A DUAL CRITICS REVIEW by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM [email protected]

The Dual Critics took a four-hour trip to Las Vegas on June 8, 2016 but never went beyond the city limits of Jacksonville. Instead, we went to our first Alhambra After Dark experience at Alhambra Theatre and Dining. The Alhambra’s owners have presented ten such special events in recent years, with most of the programming featuring recreations of the performances of famous entertainers from the past in a nightclub setting.

The Rat Pack — Live and Swingin! featured Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Dean Martin, three of Vegas’ most acclaimed crooners, all of whom have passed on to that big nightclub in the sky.

During the two-hour show, we enjoyed the performances of Sebastian Anzaldo (Frank Sinatra), Kenny Jones (Sammy Davis, Jr.) and Andy DiMino (Dean Martin) as they belted out song after song from the golden age of music. All of these talented singers have been portraying their character for over ten years, and have traveled throughout the world with the production, in addition to returning to Vegas from time to time for shows.

alhambra after dark 007The full house audience sang along with many of the beloved classic songs, which included “New York, New York,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Candy Man,” “Mr. Bojangles,”“Amore,” and “Everybody Loves Somebody.” The performers involved the audience personally on multiple occasions, and there were lots of jokes mixed in throughout the evening.

This was the second time the group had been on stage at the Alhambra, and since all six shows of the current production were sold out, they will likely return in another year or two.

The Pack was backed up by six talented local musicians who included Rob Eccles (Piano), Mike Perez (Bass), Clyde Connor (Drums), Jim Malmgren (Trumpet), Bill Prinse (Saxophone), and Marc Dickman (Trombone).

Two interesting facts about the Rat Pack. Frank, Sammy, and Dean were filming the movie “Oceans Eleven” back in 1960 when they began performing in “Summit at the Sands” after the day’s filming was completed.  Actress Lauren Bacall gave the guys their “Rat Pack,” name on an occasion when she and husband Bogart were partying with them at home and she looked at her inebriated friends and proclaimed “You look like a pack of rats.”

alhambra after dark 004The Rat Pack played important roles in the success of Las Vegas. First, they helped establish the city as one of America’s most popular entertainment destinations. Additionally, they were influential in the desegregation of Vegas’ casinos and hotels in the 1960s, as they refused to perform at or frequent venues that did not treat African-American entertainers as first class citizens.

“Alhambra After Dark” gives Jacksonville residents a real nightclub experience, equal to productions in Las Vegas, New York, or Chicago. The evening begins with a gourmet dinner, prepared by an award winning staff, followed by an intimate show. Thanks, Frank, Sammy, and Dean, for taking us back to the atmosphere, glamour, and music of the ‘60s.

Next in the Alhambra After Dark 2016 Music Series is “Hank & My Honky Tonk Heroes,” with Jason Petty, which will be on stage during October 12 – 16. It’s going to sell out, so to avoid disappointment buy your tickets now. Call 904-641-1212 or visit alhambrajax.com for additional information and reservations.

About Dick Kerekes & Leisla Sansom

The Dual Critics of EU Jacksonville have been reviewing plays together for the past nine years. Dick Kerekes has been a critic since 1980, starting with The First Coast Entertainer and continuing as the paper morphed into EU Jacksonville. Leisla Sansom wrote reviews from time to time in the early 80s, but was otherwise occupied in the business world. As a writing team, they have attended almost thirty Humana Festivals of New America Plays at Actors Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and many of the annual conferences sponsored by the American Theatre Critics Association, which are held in cities throughout the country. They have reviewed plays in Cincinnati, Chicago, Miami, Sarasota, Minneapolis, Orlando, New York, Philadelphia, Sarasota, San Francisco, Shepherdstown, and The Eugene O’Neill Center in Waterford, Massachusetts. They currently review about one hundred plays annually in the North Florida area theaters, which include community, college, university, and professional productions.

october, 2021

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