Our Sinatra, the Off-Broadway show long ensconced at the Reprise Room at Dillon's, will follow the example of Tony 'n Tina's Wedding and The Syringa Tree and go on a month-long hiatus rather than close in the face of the decreased theatre audiences caused by this month's terrorist attacks. The revue will interrupt its nearly two-year run on Sept. 30 and return to its Midtown home on Nov. 2.
The cast will put the break to good use; several cast members will travel to San Antonio to perform the show at The Charline McCombs Empire Theatre.
The forever-running Tony 'n Tina's Wedding recently decided to suspend performances until Nov. 1. Meanwhile, The Syringa Tree, a surprise hit at the 91st Street Playhouse, will resume its schedule on Oct. 23. Both shows hoped to avoid the current uneasiness in which audiences may be disinclined to indulge in entertainment.
Sinatra plays at "The Reprise Room," a new performance space in the restaurant Dillon's on West 54th Street. A sleeper hit at the Blue Angel Theatre since Dec. 8, 1999, Our Sinatra played its last show there Aug. 12, 2000, and moved to the Reprise Room the next night. The 140-seat Reprise Room (somewhat smaller than the Blue Angel) had never been used as a performance space. The show remains under a standard Off Broadway contract. Our Sinatra, officially opened Dec. 19, 1999. Supervised by Richard Maltby Jr. (Fosse, Ain't Misbehavin') and directed by Kurt Stamm, the performer-conceived production is a tour of some 50 songs (full tunes and medley versions), from "Witchcraft" to "Time After Time" to "These Foolish Things," and more.
The show's original co-producer, Scott Perrin, who is no longer associated with the production, also produced the long-running Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know. Our Sinatra started as an August 1999 cabaret show (seen at the famed Algonquin Oak Room), conceived and then-performed by pianist Eric Comstock, vocalists Christopher Gines and Hilary Kole. Stamm and Maltby helped shape this version, making some cuts and adding a couple of different tunes.
Stamm told Playbill On-Line (Dec. 8, 1999) that the production celebrates some of the lesser-played Sinatra works, rather than ubiquitous hits such as "New York, New York."
"We're steering clear of the stuff that is so cliched," said Stamm at the time, "but there are hints of the hits in some places. It's more about digging in and finding the hidden gems, finding the orphan songs that weren't known until he recorded them." Consequently, listen for "These Foolish Things," "To Love and Be Loved," "Without a Song" and "How Do You Keep the Music Playing?"
Stamm, who is an artistic associate of Maltby's, first heard the trio when popular song historian Jonathan Schwartz recommended the performers for a Maltby-directed tribute to Jimmy Van Heusen in the Lincoln Center "American Songbook" series in October.
Designers for Our Sinatra are Alan Moyer (sets), Jeffrey Nellis (lighting) and Matt Berman (sound).
For tickets to Our Sinatra call (212) 239-6200.
—By Robert Simonson
and David Lefkowitz