Sinatra, RAW

Derby Theatre


Richard Shelton is Frank Sinatra in this self-penned production. He is best known as a TV actor who performed in ITV's Emmerdale playing Adam Forsythe between 2005 and 2006, before going on to portray Frank Sinatra in Rat Pack Confidential in London's West End.

In RAW he takes us to the Purple Room in Palm Springs USA in 1971 to revisit his career with Dean Martin, Carey Grant, and Sophia Loren in attendance, sadly Ava Gardner was unable to make it.

Tonight he has only a keyboard player to accompany him, but on other dates he is joined by a full orchestra. The pared back presentation assists, rather than detracts from, his performance. Sinatra’s talent lay as much in his phrasing as his singing, stripped of peripheral noise we could hear not only every word, but every syllable of every word of his songs.

Inevitably the audience is predominantly older, 70+, reflecting his golden era which predates rock and pop. A superstardom fuelled by a handful of tv and radio stations providing a media focus of massive intensity and a cinema presence which took him all over the globe.

Shelton appears solo in an ubiquitous dinner jacket accompanied by a keyboard player only- and a bottle of whiskey. The format is part concert recital, part “an audience with”, as Sinatra delivers chronological anecdotes about his career interspersed with live audience interaction and banter which is very slick.

The anecdotes are part entertainment, and part history, the majority of which I was unaware. Both seamlessly stitch together the song running order capturing the highs and lows of Sinatra’s career. JFK, Bing Crosby, presidential elections, the Mafia Mob and the Civil Rights movement of 1964 are all touched upon.

Split into two 45 minute halves the song selection is adroitly chosen and sumptuously delivered. Although I am not a devotee, I knew all the songs which were not confined to the big hits - the lesser known Summer Wind was an absolute joy.

 Yes he did close the main set with My Way. Live, the debt that David Bowie’s Life on Mars owes the song is strikingly apparent, before the New York encore brought down the final curtain. Shelton has put together something special, a show in which he plays Sinatra, acts Sinatra, adopts all of his mannerisms and sings Sinatra superbly. Continues on nationwide tour including a Dudley date for Wolverhampton born Shelton:

Gary Longden


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