The Winter Park Playhouse has made musical-revue tributes rather a specialty of late with shows honoring Fred Astaire, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. Its most recent honoree is crooner Frank Sinatra, whose music is celebrated in "My Way."
With this type of revue firmly under its belt, the Playhouse has its approach down to a formula, so maybe that's why a preview performance of "My Way" felt, well, formulaic.
"My Way" is beautifully sung and professionally staged, but there's a mechanical feel underpinning the show. Maybe it's in the way director Roy Alan has the action shift methodically from one side of the stage to the other in a predictable pattern. Or in the deliberate mugging at the show's start by the talented quartet who deliver dozens of Sinatra tunes.
Or maybe it's simply that while the other tribute shows have been devised by Alan and others at the Playhouse, the minimalistic "My Way" was conceived by others. David Grapes and Todd Olson put the show together more than a decade ago.
The creators provided very little dialogue. Alan contributes some snappy choreography — but the show rests squarely on the voices, and personalities, of the cast. Luckily, the Playhouse has four strong performers in Melissa Minyard, Christopher Alan Norton and especially Kevin Kelly and Laura Hodos, each of whom sports a devilish grin that surely would have won Sinatra's approval.
All four do more than justice to the songs, but while Minyard and Norton seem more respectful in their singing, Kelly and Hodos make the standards their own.
"High Hopes," "My Funny Valentine," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Witchcraft," "New York, New York" — the hits come in rapid-fire medleys. It's fun to hear how well so many of the songs fit together, considering they were written by different composers.
Surprise harmonies delight, such as in a beautiful "Moonlight Serenade," and the strongest segment is saved for last — a stirring sequence of "The Best Is Yet To Come," "I'm Gonna Live 'Til I Die" and "That's Life."
Like at the Playhouse's tributes to Berlin and Porter, the Sinatra songs prove too irresistible for the audience to stay quiet, and voices can be heard throughout the audience joining in on the best-known songs.
Maybe a polite announcement at the show's start is called for — a reminder that patrons have paid to hear the professionals on stage sing, not the perfectly lovely people sitting behind them.
Yes, that makes me sound like a grouch. But the impromptu sing-alongs also demonstrate that if there is a formula to these sorts of revues, it's a winning one for the Playhouse crowd.
'My Way: A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra'
• What: A Winter Park Playhouse production of a musical revue conceived by David Grapes and Todd Olson
• Length: 2 hours, including intermission
• Where: Winter Park Playhouse, 711-C Orange Ave., Winter Park
• When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays (except Jan. 27); 2 p.m. Thursdays; and 7:30 p.m. for the Playhouse's "Wacky Wednesday" show on Feb. 13.
• Tickets: $38; $35 seniors; $28 matinees and "Wacky Wednesday"; $20 entertainment-industry professionals and students 25 and younger.
• Call: 407-645-0145
• Online: winterparkplayhouse.orgCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun