New tuner of crooner opens o'seas
LONDON — Frank Sinatra will live again, beginning in February at the London Palladium. The venue where the crooner made his European debut in 1950 will be home to a 30-week run of “Sinatra at the London Palladium,” a £4.5 million ($8 million) multimedia musical.
Previews begin Feb. 17, and the show, which sports a cast of 20 and an onstage band of 24, opens March 8. But unlike tuners “The Boy From Oz” and “Lennon” that had performers playing the name roles, this latest venture, says co-producer Joshua Rosenblum, “is Frank Sinatra’s voice always, all the time. We only have one star in our show: Frank Sinatra — and the music.”
“Sinatra at the London Palladium” expands upon a project from Rosenblum and partner James Sanna’s previous tenure at Radio City Entertainment. “Sinatra: His Voice, His World, His Way” did 11 perfs at Radio City late in 2003, selling 55,000 tickets and playing to 92% capacity in the 5,600-seat hall.
Then, as now, the idea is to integrate video and archival footage of the crooner — much of it never previously seen — with live performers and musicians who interact with the sounds and images.
London incarnation has a different helmer — David Leveaux, not Des McAnuff — and an Anglo-American creative team.
Producers are Rosenblum and Sanna’s Running Subway Prods., the Nederlander Organization, Michael Gardner and Act Prods., in association with Sinatra Enterprises.
London has always been Sinatra-mad. Karaoke evening “The Rat Pack” has played various West End houses in different versions and is currently at the Savoy. In 2003, the Whitehall saw a short-lived play, “Rat Pack Confidential,” which took a warts-and-all approach to Sinatra’s life.
Rosenblum said he was mindful of this interest in positioning for Britain a show destined to end up (in even more embellished form) in Las Vegas.
Tickets will top out at £55 ($100) in the 2,200-seat Palladium. That should allow for payback over the nine months or so before the prestige West End house is given over to a long talked-about Really Useful revival of “The Sound of Music.”