On Saturday evening we went to ” The Frank Sinatra Show”, a live musical show based on the music of Frank Sinatra. It was presented by the Italian American Club of our Active Adult community and the ballroom was filled almost to capacity with about 240 people.
The show featured two seventyish singer comedians who took turns singing hits from the fifties and sixties while engaging in some light- hearted banter. One of them sang only Sinatra songs while the other warbled hits by Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, Perry Como, Johnny Ray, Pat Boone and others. The advertising flyer didn’t give their names and I missed the on-stage announcement, so I will call them ” Frank” and ” Dino”. Frank was pretty good, Dino not quite, but it didn’t matter. The two of them were very engaging sustained the audience’s interest throughout the 90- minute show.
Even their introductions were funny and had the audience laughing. For instance, Dino said about Frank, “Give this man a great big hand, folks. He came here today straight from a hospital bed. Last Wednesday, he was doing some work on his roof and fell off a forty-foot ladder. Frank, why don’t you tell them about it ? “
” Well, it’s like you say, Dino. Trying to clean the gutters of my house, I got out my forty foot ladder and leaned it against the roof. I made sure the ladder was secure and began to climb up. I remember getting on the bottom step but not how I fell off. The next thing I knew, I was lying on the ground and the EMTs and my neighbor were leaning over me. True story ! !”.
The words ” True story” were a refrain we heard throughout the evening. They were repeated even after the most outrageous anecdotes, the ones that were patently ridiculous. Here is Frank explaining what a considerate husband he is, ” One time, I was watching my wife coming back from the grocery store. She was struggling to carry four bags of groceries as she climbed up the front steps. I opened the door and said to her kindly,’ Next time, try carrying them two at a time.’ But she got me good in return. The other day, she was in a sexy negligee I’d never seen before. I opened the door and asked ‘ Where have you been, woman?’ True story !!”
Before they introduced each song, Dino gave a brief rundown of the singer’s background that segued into an introduction of the song he was about to sing. Example: “ Johnny Mathis was a star high jumper who cleared 6′ 5-1/2″ though only 5’7″in height. One fateful day in 1956, he found two envelopes in his mailbox. One was an invitation to attend the Olympic trials for the Melbourne Olympics; the other asked him to come to New York City for a recording session. He thought to himself’ Chances are I’ll never make the Olympic team… Ladies & Gentlemen, here is Johnny Mathis’ greatest hit Chances Are.”
Some of their anecdotes were re-workings of old jokes. Others were original, or perhaps I hadn’t heard them before. Here is a corny one, ” When I was a kid, we used to go to church faithfully on Sundays. The bells used to summon us to Mass and the pealing of the bells was a beautiful sound. One day the bell ringer quit and the priest was in a dilemma. He put an ad in the newspaper but only one man showed up in response. The priest looked at him and saw that he had no arms. ‘ How are you going to ring the bells without any arms ?’ he said. But the man pleaded for a chance and the priest relented. Together, they climbed up the steps of the bell tower. Once there, the man began to ring the bells bashing them with his head, his face. He was so good that the priest hired him on the spot. Next Sunday, the bells rang as never before but suddenly there was a thud and they stopped. The bell ringer had fallen out of the tower. Everyone rushed to the steps where the mangled body lay. ‘Who is it?’, one man wondered. ‘ I’m not sure’, said another , ‘ but his face rings a bell. True story ! ! “
If I have dwelt at length on the jokes and the patter, it is because it’s impossible to write at length about singing. Frank and Dino did a passable job singing all the old favorites. The ones that got the most applause were two Frank Sinatra standards. ” New York, New York” and , for a finale, ” My Way”. More than the singing itself, it was the relaxed patter, the stories about the singers’ early years and their own good humor that captivated the audience. I was watching the faces of the people around me and I could I could see that they were transported to another time, another place when life was simple, when they were young and strong and the world was their oyster.
Outside it was cold and blustery but , inside, in the company of people having a good time, sharing in the warmth and the camaraderie… nothing could have been finer. It was a most enjoyable evening.
True story! I really mean it !!