'My Way' sings

Roger Bryant
The Midland Daily News,

The Theatre Guild's production of "My Way; A Musical Tribute to Frank Sinatra," which opened Friday at the Midland Center for the Arts, is an enjoyable revue that that works well in part because of the energy and enthusiasm of its cast.

Of special note is Cynthia Hotopp, who also serves as the assistant musical director. She is phenomenal ­ her voice is strong and clear and she nails every note. More importantly, she displays the same understanding of great songs like "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and "My Funny Valentine" that Sinatra had. At his best, he sang so that you knew he had thoroughly absorbed the composers' meaning and was delivering emotional truth. He inhabited the songs. Hotopp does the same ­ she gets it.

Also noteworthy was Bill Anderson Jr. He has a great voice, and makes singing seem effortless. He shines in some of the more light-hearted numbers such as "Should I?" and "Makin' Whoopee," and shares honors with Emily Robinson in a well-staged, cute rendition of "Love and Marriage."

The second man in the cast, Dale Watters Jr., best captures the Sinatra persona ­ he evokes the finger-snapping, angled-Fedora, "Rat Pack" attitude the singer often displayed in the 1950s and the 1960s. He does a great job with "Fly Me to the Moon," one of the signature Sinatra tunes of the "Rat Pack" era.

The production was helped immensely by the on-stage musicians: Bonnie Sitter on piano, Utah Hamrick on bass (who will alternate with Roland Wallace) and Tom Ryden on drums. Sitter is also the show's musical director. They play well, and since this is a revue and not a traditional musical, they play continuously. Another strong point is the show's set, which evokes an upscale cocktail lounge or nightclub dating from Sinatra's heyday, and includes (appropriately) a well-stocked bar.

"My Way" is a fun evening and worthy both as a remembrance for Sinatra fans and an introduction for those unfamiliar with his music.

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