WINTER PARK — When you think about the holiday season, I’ll bet those thoughts drift to images of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, dashing holiday lights, and Santa greeting kids at the local mall.
How about Frank Sinatra?
Not immediately, you say? Then I have some good news. Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, a part of the legendary Rat Pack, gets his own holiday tribute at The Winter Park Playhouse, and it’s the perfect vehicle for not just Sinatra fans, but for anyone looking for a fun, upbeat and thoroughly unique holiday show that’s unlikely to make anybody say “Bah! Humbug!”
The musical, Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash, opened on Friday and runs through Dec. 18. It will have you longing for old Frankie to stop by your office or family Christmas party and start belting out those perennial favorites.
What is Sinatra Christmas My Way?
Throughout his long career, Sinatra recorded numerous holiday albums, including Christmas Songs By Sinatra in 1948, A Jolly Christmas From Frank Sinatra in 1957, and The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas in 1968, so he definitely left a legacy of beautifully recorded holiday favorites done in his inimitable voice.
Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash was created by David Grapes II and Todd Olson, and the show offers an irresistible mix between holiday classics such as “Mistletoe and Holly,” “The Christmas Song,” and “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and Sinatra’s legendary hits like “New York New York” and “My Way.” The music is one aspect of the play’s fun; the casting is the other.
This production directed by Roy Alan, the theater’s artistic director, features Patrece Bloomfield, Kevin Kelly, Rebecca Jo Lightfoot and Russell Stephens as our singers and guides through the show. The stage features a Christmas tree on the right, and on the left — a bar! Where would a Sinatra show be without a bar, and plenty of drinks flowing?
The cast expertly gets us into the mood to not only love the holiday season, and also to revisit what made Sinatra so legendary.
What Happens in Christmas My Way?
The show features an abundance of great humor — jokes that range from corny to hilarious. That helps to introduce another key aspect of what makes Christmas My Way so much fun: audience participation. The cast has a grand old time talking directly to the audience, and there’s hardly a better example of this when they lead the audience through a new rendition of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” with the lyrics changed to reflect all we’ve ever known and loved about Frank Sinatra: booze, lovely ladies, and good times. It was one of the best moments in the show.
And you simply can’t beat the charm, stunning vocal talent and wit that our four performers bring to the show, and their harmonies are simply gorgeous. If you were expecting not to get into the holiday spirit this season, catch this show, and I’ll bet whatever Scrooge-like attitudes you came in the door with will be long gone by the final curtain call.
The show has two acts, both 40 minutes long, with a 15 minute intermission, and the Playhouse has some sublime holiday drinks at the bar, so keep that in mind, too.
Where Can I See Christmas My Way?
Winter Park Playhouse is at 711 Orange Ave. Suite C in Winter Park. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Thursday, Friday and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. There will be select Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday matinees, also at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices are $45 for evening shows, $42 for senior evening shows, $36 for matinees, and $20 for students and theatrical industry professionals. Group discount rates for 10 people or more are available. Student rush “$10@10” offers $10 tickets (for students 25 years and younger) will be available 10 minutes prior to a performance when seats are available.
To get tickets, call the box office at 407-645-0145 or purchase them online at the Playhouse website.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book When I Woke Up, You Were All Dead. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.