The Rat Pack is Back
June 27 – July 14
- CAST & CREATIVE
What happens in Vegas… all started with The Rat Pack. Direct from Las Vegas, this spectacular show recreates one of the famous “Summit at the Sands” nights when the swingin’, ring-a-ding group known as “The Rat Pack” was creating hipster legend with a free-wheeling, no-holds-barred nightclub act starring Vegas’ four favorite sons: Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. THE RAT PACK IS BACK features uncanny vocal recreations, unbridled humor, and is backed by “The Black Tie Affair,” a smoking hot, 15 piece orchestra that sends audiences straight back to the coolest time in history. Hits include “That’s Amore,” “My Way,” “Mr. Bojangles,” Fly me to the Moon,” My Kind of Town," "New York, New York,"and many more. See why The Las Vegas Sun writes, “This is as close as anyone has come to capturing the feeling of the real thing,” and the Chicago Tribune raves, “Classic comic material. Excellent!”
|ROBBIE HOWARD (Appearing as Frank Sinatra) Robbie Howard began his career in Los Angeles in both live theater and television. He was both writer and director of Orange County”s most prestigious comedy night club Crackers before coming to Las Vegas and starring in his own productions of Hurray America and Stars of the Strip With over 10,000 shows under his belt Robbie has written and directed shows for corporate events and theme parks with clients such as Sony, Delco, Brunswick, Microsoft, Kimberly Clark, Homeland Security, and Nintedo. His Television and commercial credits include General Hospital , Days of Our Lives, Growing Pains, Rags to Riches, Perfect Strangers, The Price is Right, Budweiser, McDonalds, Citi Bank, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.|
|KENNY JONES (Appearing as Sammy Davis, Jr.) Kenny Jones grew up in Kansas and began performing at the age of 12 in gospel ensembles. He joined an R&B band called Groove City and began touring the United States and performing from coast to coast. His amazing singing ability, stage persona and dance talents make him a natural in the role of Sammy Davis Jr. In The Rat Pack is Back, Kenny Jones pays true homage to one of his life long idols, Mr. Showmanship.... Sammy Davis Jr.|
|JOHNNY EDWARDS (Appearing as Dean Martin) Johnny has made himself a name in Las Vegas as sort of a chameleon in the entertainment world. This talented actor has portrayed Elvis, Roy Orbison and even Sir Elton John in shows in Las Vegas and around the world. When it came time to step up to the plate as Dean Martin, Johnny jumped at the chance without hesitation. He has since received much acclaim for his uncanny recreation, appearing in several shows in Las Vegas as Dean Martin, including “Ole Blue Eyes” and “Vegas Headliners.” It was around this time that Johnny had set his sights on the “The Rat Pack is Back” which also makes its home in Vegas. Through hard work and perseverance, Johnny fine tuned his portrayal of Dean Martin to the level that would bring him to their stage, side by side with some of the most talented professionals in the business.|
|DENNIS BLAIR (Appearing as Joey Bishop) Dennis Blair is a Renaissance man. He is an accomplished screenwriter, awardwinning songwriter and comedic actor. Yet he is probably best known for the caustic observations and musical satires of his live comedy performances. Early in his career, Rodney Dangerfield made him his protégé, and together they toured the U.S and Canada for over three years. Dennis conceived, co-wrote and appeared in Rodney’s hit movie, “Easy Money”. He also co-wrote and appeared in two Dangerfield specials on ABC, and was creative consultant for the album “Rappin’ Rodney”. The title song (which he wrote with Rodney) was nominated for a Grammy Award. His post-Rodney career has seen him opening for a multitude of celebrities such as Tom Jones, The Beach Boys, Natalie Cole, Garry Shandling, Joan Rivers, George Wallace, Gloria Estefan, Joy Behar, Jackie Mason, and the late, great George Carlin, with whom he toured Meanwhile, he continues to headline in comedy clubs, on cruise ships and at corporate events and to open for celebrities and rock bands, and also appears from time to time in the road production of “The Rat Pack is Back” as comedian Joey Bishop. Movies, television, radio, theaters, comedy clubs, comedy albums, a book, a play…has he had his fill? “As long as there are jokes to be written,” says Dennis, “and as long as my family demands to be fed, I’ll be around.”|
|LON BRONSON (Musical Director) Throughout his career, Lon has been one of the most highly sought after musicians in the country, functioning as musical director, conductor, arranger, orchestrator and composer for national TV, headline performers, production shows, and large scale corporate events. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy® for Musical Direction. His television musical direction credits include: “Last Comic Standing,” “Steve Schirripa Show,” “Earth To America” (Emmy® nomination), “The Ron White Show,” “Viva Variety, ” “Friar’s Club Roast of Drew Carey,” “HBO’s Mr. Vegas All Night Party Starring Drew Carey.” He has performed with: Sheena Easton, The Temptations, Little Anthony & The Imperials, Celine Dion, Jerry Lewis, The Four Tops, Gloria Estefan, David Foster, Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight, Frankie Valli, Bobby Vinton, Luther Vandross, Don Henley, Wayne Newton, Michael Amante and Diana Ross. He has guest conducted with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and the Pacific Symphony Concert Orchestra. Currently, Lon is the Musical Director and Band Leader for the Vegas production of The Rat Pack is Back! having also worked with the companies in San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit, and Atlantic City. The Lon Bronson All-Star Band currently holds the record for the longest running band in Las Vegas history. For more information, please visit www.lonbronson.com.|
|KIM HANSON (Lighting Designer) Kim has done lots of lighting for lots of tours, national and international. Nowadays he is based in Connecticut where he does a lot of local freelancing. Additionally, he is the resident designer for The Waterfront Theatre and the Paradise Ballet, both in Key West, and designs lighting as often as possible for Ballet Santa Barbara. Of late he spent a fair amount of time as Production Manager for the Stephen Siller Foundation- producers of the annual Tunnel to Towers race and of many concert fund raisers featuring Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band as they help build high tech homes for disabled vets across the country. In his spare time he is Chairman of his local school board (and he also happens to be the only 3-peat winner of the annual Gateway 4th of July pool tournament.) The first show he designed for Gateway Playhouse was Baby in 1985. This production of The Rat Pack is Back marks his 28th season. The list of dear life-long friends he has had the luck to meet and work with here is long indeed; a big thanks and love to every one of you and to the audiences who make this all possible!|
|RICHARD KANFER (General Manager) As owner of Dynasty Productions (formerly Interactive Events) since 1979, Mr. Kanfer has been a leader in the Special Events industry having pioneered several genres of entertainment including the murder mystery and mock wedding concepts. Mr. Kanfer is a founding member of the International Special Events Society and has been honored by his peers winning six Allie Awards for events he created and produced, including original shows Holiday Impressions and Frankie & Angie Get Married. Mr. Kanfer has created and produced many high-profile events working with such talents as Ruben Studdard, Jay Leno, Jeff Foxworthy, Steely Dan, Alabama and Clint Black. He created the world-premier event of Swatch’s first scuba diving watch including the first-ever corporate performance by the original Cirque du Soleil. He continues to represent unique and creative original shows to the theatrical, corporate and casino industries including The Rat Pack is Back!, Frankie & Angie’s Wedding, The World’s Greatest Magic Show, The Flying Elvi and Holiday Impressions. He would like to thank Matthew, Jacob and Rachael, who are the inspiration for his long and fun career.|
|DICK FEENEY (Producer) Mr. Feeney’s first critically acclaimed show was Lullaby of Swing in 1981 in Honolulu, Hawaii which played successful runs in both Atlantic City at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino and Boston at the Bradford Theatre. As the Associate Producer of An Evening at La Cage at the Riviera Hotel & Casino and Producer of Crazy Girls, Mr. Feeney is no stranger to Vegas. After 20 years, both shows continue to play to enthusiastic audiences. In 1991, Mr. Feeney opened Viva Las Vegas at the Sands Hotel & Casino. With its 18 year run, Viva Las Vegas remains the longest running and most successful afternoon show in Las Vegas history. Mr. Feeney has gone on to produce numerous other shows worldwide from Japan to Monte Carlo, including Showgirls, The Great Gleason, Bottoms Up, Forbidden Vegas, Playboy Girls Hit Parade and the familyfriendly Vegas act The World’s Greatest Magic Show. His television productions include “The Entertainment Page,” “Las Vegas Tonite” and “Karaoke Krazy.” Mr. Feeney has even taken his productions to the sky as owner of the Elvis Presley skydiving team, The Flying Elvi, who were featured in the movie Honeymoon in Vegas. In October of 2008 Mr. Feeney was awarded a star on the prestigious “Las Vegas Walk of Stars” for his outstanding contributions to the Las Vegas entertainment community. The star is permanently on display in the sidewalk in front of the New York, New York Hotel and Casino.|
|ARTHUR J. PETRIE (Executive Producer/TRP Entertainment) has been in the real estate development and investment business for the past 45 years. He is Chairman of the Board of Petrie Development Corporation, formed in 1976, and General Manager of Asset Development Services, LLC, a real estate investment company located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Petrie’s experience in commercial real estate includes development for Wal- Mart, Sam’s Club, K-mart and other retail users, development of apartment complexes and redevelopment of a university campus to offices and housing. Petrie Development was the leader in the United States in the development and construction of barrier free housing for the handicapped under a HUD housing program. He has been active in the development, ownership and management of Embassy Suites, Hampton Inns, Holiday Inns, Radissons and Hyatt Regency Hotels. Current projects include ownership and renovation of the Federal Reserve Bank building in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has participated in the acquisition, refinancing and sale of two casino-related properties in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is a founder of Retired.com, Signal Sites, Inc., and Longevity Nutraceutical Labs LLC.|
July 6, 2012
Recreating the Old Ring-a-Ding-Ding
When Frank Sinatra and some of his Hollywood cronies from the Rat Pack were making the comical heist movie “Ocean’s Eleven” in Las Vegas in 1960, they famously moonlighted in a nightclub act at the posh Sands Hotel... (Read complete review here)
July 5, 2012
‘The Rat Pack is Back’ and are we lucky
In the 1960s, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop performed their brio in a nightclub act held at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas while filming “Ocean’s 11.” These men had all fought for stardom in their own way, especially Sinatra, through his successful singing career and then film career when the chips were down, and Sammy Davis Jr., a wiry, energetic black man whose distinctive voice wowed audiences despite racial prejudices of its time. They were the era’s bad boys; Martin’s and Sinatra’s backgrounds included friendships with the mob, but their joyful, and sometimes arrogant — a Sinatra trait — confidence were a lure. They all hailed from immigrant or blue-collar families with various ethnicities; Bishop was Jewish, and represented a kind of “my people” thing. Their four-week “Summit at the Sands” lounge act has been recreated in this show.
The group’s off-the-cuff affection for each other and their talent has been catapulted from the past and these Gateway Rat Pack stars nail their celebrities’ personas on the head. Johnny Edwards, as Dean Martin, conjures his voice, insouciant saunter and amazingly similar looks with playful banter. And there’s plenty of that here. When he sings “Drink to me only ... that’s all I aks, ” orchestra members yell back, “Ask!” and the audience got right in on “Volare” and “That’s Amore,” his signature songs, with little prompting.
Kenny Jones channels Sammy Davis Jr.’s intensity, dance moves and voice. “Hey There” from “The Pajama Game” is lovely and “Something’s Got to Give” is upbeat and sexy. Davis, who became an icon in his own right, had a humble quality that Jones captures, as well as his fierce determination to perform. As for humorous repartee, it’s just an ongoing play of insults, jokes and pokes with these four, but no need to cover your ears. Martin keeps strolling on stage with a giant martini glass, a play on his alcoholic fervor (he drank, but not as portrayed). Dennis Blair as comedian Joey Bishop marches down the aisles selling T-shirts and long pants for a patron in front when Sinatra, played by Robby Howard, chides him for wearing shorts.
There’s a great Sinatra/Davis scene as Howard and Jones sing “Me and My Shadow” and their rendition is showmanship dynamite. During “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” a fabulous Nelson Riddle arrangement, the orchestra’s sax section builds a successive crescendo to a slide trombone solo that just blows your head off. Howard’s “New York, New York,” with a kickline from his Rat Pack buddies, was a high-spirited rendition that got a standing ovation.
“Meet you at the bar,” he said, after the applause died down. And he did. Actually, all four performers greeted the audience after the show in the lobby area, a classy gesture.
Now for the orchestra. The Black Tie Affair, led by music director Lon Bronson, is a 16-piece gathering of top-notch musicians whose music is infectious, glorious and reminiscent of the great bands. They’ve been featured on “The Today Show,” and Bronson’s credentials include an Emmy nomination. The Rat Pack portrayers, Howard, Jones, Edwards and Blair, all have prestigious television, Las Vegas, film and songwriting credits.
Some may remember the Rat Pack from their parents’ time; some may have actually watched them as they debuted their Sands act. But this spunky, fun show is a treat for any true music lover and an exuberant shot in the arm. Ring-a-ding-ding!
July 7, 2012
The Rat Pack Is Back
Straight from fabulous Las Vegas, The Rat Pack is Back hits the stage at Gateway with resounding waves of laughter and soul-shaking music. The Rat Pack is Back pays tribute to the famous nightclub act at the Sands hotel and casino in Las Vegas, and four talented actors manage to recreate the magical chemistry of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop.
It’s 1960 in postwar America, and a new generation of entertainers was beginning to emerge. The “Chairman of the Board” of the Rat Pack is Frank Sinatra – cool, charismatic, a little dangerous, and a real crooner. Portraying the famous Sinatra is Robbie Howard, and he sounds so much like Sinatra it will send chills down your spine. You’ll find yourself singing along to familiar Sinatra tunes “Luck be a Lady,” “That’s Amore,” and “New York, New York.” Howard also captures Sinatra’s unique dry wit, causing more than a few peals of laughter from yours truly.
As the soulful Sammy Davis, Jr., Kenny Jones truly lives up to his characters zest for life, movement and rhythm. The Kansas Gospel singer nearly vibrates with excitement whether he’s belting out a Sammy tune or busting a move with effortless swagger.
The heartthrob known as Dean Martin is played by Johnny Edwards, who captures the essence of Dean Martin so well I thought my mother – who grew up listening to these guys – was going to crack her face she was smiling so hard. In fact, as I looked around me, I noticed all the ladies were as enamored with Dean/Johnny as my mother and myself were.
Comedian Dennis Blair, whose timing is impeccable, cleverly portrays Joey Bishop, the protégé of Rodney Dangerfield, and all of his jokes may have bordered on cheesy (or politically incorrect) rather than funny, it helped to bring us back in time. We can see he’s the odd man out of the odd and hilarious pairing of two Italians, an African American, and a Jew in 1960s America. The quartet defined the new American Cool, and it was funny.
The crowning glory of this production – and the glue holding together all the spectacular talent Gateway has brought in for our viewing pleasure – is the 16-piece orchestra known as The Black Tie Affair, led by music director Lon Bronson. Based in New York, the Emmy-nominated orchestra helps bring to life an unforgettable musical era, and centers on these four men in the prime of their careers.
As the characters live out a night in their 1960s show, we are taken back in time with them, and the music is classic. You can’t help but sing along when prompted (and, sometimes when you’re not) snap your fingers along with the beat, and you certainly can’t help that your feet tapping along as Sammy Davis Jr. belts out a soulful tune. Watching Dean Martin sip his whiskey and smoke his cigarette on stage, all the while keeping up his part of the tune is hilarious.
I was sad when it was over – we were all having so much fun!
You can catch The Rat Pack is Back playing at the Gateway Playhouse through July 14. Next in line for Gateway is 9 to 5 July 18 – August 4, and Phantom of the Opera August 22 – Sept 9.
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|JOEY BISHOP||Dennis Blair||
Download the Playbill
6 Meg PDF File
|DEAN MARTIN||Johnny Edwards|
|SAMMY DAVIS, JR||Kenny Jones|
|FRANK SINATRA.||Robbie Howard|
The Black Tie Affair Orchestra
Thomas J. Manuel, Artistic Director, Conductor
|Saxophones||Chris Donohue, Alto 1|
|Eric Kay, Alto 2|
|Mark Gatz, Tenor 1|
|Mark Stuckey, Tenor 2|
|Chris Scarnato, Bari|
|Rhythm||Edward Tierney, Drums|
|Frank Hansen, Bass|
|Peter Rogine, Guitar|
|Peter Pece, Piano|
Board of Directors
|Executive Producer||Ruth Allan|
|Associate Producer||Jeff Bellante|
|General Manager||Dom Ruggiero|
|Company Manager||Michael Baker|
|Assistant Company Manager||Jasmin Jakobsen|
|Director of Development/ Assistant to the Producer||Scot Patrick Allan|
|Administrative Assistant||Jessica Norland|
|Development Assistants||Don Rebar, Emily Denison|
|Acting School Director||Robin Joy Allan|
|Teaching Staff||Brian Gligor, Jessica Kerner, Andrew Pandaleon|
|Accompanists||Jeff Hoffman, Peter Pece|
|Box Office Manager||Laurie Hunter|
|House Manager||Joanne Famiglietti|
|Box Office Staff||Don Rebar, Beth Harrison, Nadine Hazard,
Diane Rodino-Koerber, Francesca Welhous
|Production Manager||Brian Loesch|
|Associate Production Manager||Justin Hoffman|
|Production Stage Manager||Maegan Passafume|
|Resident Technical Director||Dennis R. Berfield|
|Wardrobe Supervisor||Marianne Dominy|
|Resident Master Electrician||Rev. Jose Santiago|
|Production Master Electrician||Colin Chauche|
|Sound Engineer||Adam Shubert|
|Wig and Make-up Supervisor||Trent Pcenicni|
|Crew Chief and Rigger||AJ Lebens|
|Props Master||Brendan Conroy|
|Scenic Artist||Cassie Lentz|
|Assistant Master Electricians||Justin Michel|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Bethany Sortman|
|Shop Foreman||Greg Marullo|
|Technicians||Maxx Henry, Preston Sullivan, Rob Brey, Jack Murphy, Ben Panichello|
|Wardrobe Assistant||Dave Burrington|
|Sound Assistant||Zach Ireson|
|Company Management||Rachel Colson|
|Stage Management||Alex Wood|
|Electrics||Elizabeth Marquis, Dusty Rader|
|Wardrobe||Grace Czerniawski, Emily Fox, Kaitlyn McDonald|
|General Technician Interns||Emily Baldasarra, Tashiana Caulfield, Brodie Krafka, Eddie Massari, Brody Woods|
|Facilities Manager||Mark Frederick L.M.H.|
|Concessions and Hospitality Manager||Blake Armitstead|
|Cleaning Contractor||Joe Martinez and Jasper Bailey|
|Grounds Maintenance||HTM Landscaping Company|
|House Staff||Ryan Hudak, Kevin Spellman,
Ethan Bellante, Ajay Persaud, Dominic Mondi
|General Counsel||Ann L. Nowak|