The Coachella Valley is Frank Sinatra country. Both he and Dean Martin were part-time residents with many ties to the area. Barbara Sinatra (Lady Blue Eyes) still remains a force in desert charities as Founder and Chairwoman of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower Hospital. Both Frank and Barbara were deeply committed to helping and assisting abused children.
Entertainer and producer Sandy Hackett, son of legendary comedian Buddy Hackett, brings his popular Las Vegas tribute show, “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack” to the stage of the McCallum Theatre for three performances: Friday March 2, at 8 pm, and Saturday, March 3, at 2 pm and again at 8 pm.
Hackett, a high-energy writer/producer/performer, is in the middle of prepping and expanding his highly successful Las Vegas Hilton Hotel show for audiences of the 1100 seat McCallum where, thanks to the invention of the cell phone, I catch him.
JL/DLN : Is there any trepidation on your part in bringing the show to Frank’s backyard, so to speak?
SH: “Absolutely not. I can’t speak for the other performers, but for me, no trepidation, whatsoever. Remember, I spent many years off and on here with my dad. He was a very good friend of Frank, Dean, Sammy, and Joey. I have a personal history with the Rat Pack. The show is an homage to the talent and showmanship of these great performers”.
JL: How does the show at the McCallum differ from the La Vegas Hilton production?
SH: “First, we’ve expanded the show into a two act theatrical venture from the shorter casino-oriented Las Vegas format used for entertainment shows. Then, we add a swinging twelve-piece orchestra for accompaniment, which allows for a free rein, wide open, performance from the six-person cast”.
JL: Who are your cast members for this McCallum stop on your 2012 Broadway and National Tour?
SH: “Naturally, they’re all fabulous”…
SH: “Frank is played by David DeCosta, Dean is played by Tom Wallek, Sammy is played by Dezmond Meeks, and I play Joey Bishop”.
JL: My notes indicate there are two more important cast members. Who are they?
SH: “I’m glad you asked that. Yes, there are two more key members of the cast. They are Lisa Dawn Miller, my talented wife, who plays a character called ‘Frank’s One Love’ who gets to sing “Wasn’t I A Good Time?” and our eleven-year old son Oliver Richman, who portrays young Frank”.
JL: Your son Oliver, as I understand it, is amazing singer who has already made an impression on the pop music world. Tell us about him.
SH: “He recorded a song called “Defying Gravity” from the show “Wicked”, which then went viral on the internet becoming an instant hit. His grandfather Don Miller (Lisa’s father), the Motown songwriting legend, penned a song for him called “One Little Christmas Tree”, resulting in an invitation by Stevie Wonder for Oliver to sing the song on Wonder’s show in front of 7500 people”.
JL: Sounds like you now have three stars in your family show business ventures. How often, if ever, do you change the elements of the show, in order to keep it fresh?
SH: “I ad lib a lot. No, seriously I update the show’s songs, and elements always asking myself what do I need to do to make the show more contemporary. An idea like what if we had the Rat Pack performers come back to life in the 21st Century? That might be interesting. That might work. After all, they performed their acts more than sixty years ago, yet people still love to watch and hear their unique kind of humor. I think it would be fun to hear Sammy sing, “Will I still Be Me”.
JL: In checking video clips of past shows, I find the musical selections and the orchestrations to be just first rate. Who is responsible for that?
SH: “That would be Chris Hardin. He’s a wonderfully talented music arranger out of Los Angeles”.
JL: I believe that the audiences of the McCallum Theatre are in for a real treat on March 2 and 3. Sandy, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts and time with us.
SH: “You’re most welcome and thank you. One last thought. I can tell you this. ‘The Rat Pack’ show is a very funny show and the audience will leave the theatre with giant smiles on their faces”.
No producer could ask for anything more than a happy smiling audience as they leave the theatre. Talent and showmanship will always trump pyrotechnics and special effects.
The Broadway and National Tour of “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack” show moves on to more than 40 cities on its 2012 performance schedule. As a side bar note: There is a Christmas and Holiday version of the show in the works for 2012. Stay tuned …
For reservations and ticket information for the “Rat Pack” show call the McCallum box office at 760-340-2787.