Live From Las Vegas

Written and Directed by Mitch Sebastian
Starring: Mark Adams, Rashad Naylor and Stephen Triffit
At the Canon Theatre until November 14
(416) 872-1212

Reviewed by Robin Breon

Well let's get right to the heart of it, shall we? This latest compilation musical (soon heading your way) is based on the storied time the boys had at the Sands Hotel in the early 60s as they improvised their club act at night after taking the day to actually memorize script while shooting the film, Oceans 11. There remains ample documentary film footage that recaptures the whole thing and has been aired in a four part A&E special, as well as made available on video/DVD. This show's book is based almost verbatim on the record. It's the kind of raunchy stuff that Jackie Mason has been making a living off of for years.

The only thing that remains is to assess the quality of the actors who impersonate Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. Luckily, the big guy, played by Stephen Triffitt, is a drop dead ringer for Sinatra. I mean it is scary -- that's how good he is. Mark Adams does a more than passable Deano and Rashad Naylor completely misses the mark as Sammy Davis. This is very strange because every stand-up comedian from Eddie Murphy to Jim Carey to Billy Crystal can do perfectly fine renditions of Sammy Davis Jr. I would venture to say that there are probably many people that we pass on the street every day who could capture the signature mannerisms and the voice of this great entertainer. It almost seems that Naylor doesn't want to try too hard lest he be accused of coming off as a caricature. Well, there is a bit of the affected, cartoonish way that Davis presented himself in life and that's what you gotta do if you want us to go along with this gig.

In the end, it really doesn't make that much difference because it's the great American songbook, backed by a terrific onstage band that carries this show forward. Many of the songs are interpolated from other time periods because these hits came later - but they are all there. When Triffitt gets to My Way (predictably toward the end of Act II) he just needs to stand there as relaxed as can be as the audience rises to bow and genuflect to the chairman of the board.

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