The Rat Pack may be synonymous with the casinos of Las Vegas, but this summer, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City has Frank, Dean and Sammy setting up shop right here in Atlantic City for a residency that will run through December.
We’re not talking about the real Rat Pack members, as all of them have sadly passed away, but the good news is that their legacy lives on in “Rat Pack: Back in Town,” a musical and comical recreation of Rat Pack legends Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.
The show runs weekly with performances 7 p.m. Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays and features an array of classic hits such as “Fly Me to the Moon,” “Everybody Loves Somebody,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “New York New York,” “That’s Amore,” “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” “I’ve Got the World on a String,” “The Candy Man,” “Luck be a Lady,” “Birth of the Blues” and many more, in addition to comedy bits and hilarious banter. The show is produced by legendary producer Allen Valentine.
We spoke with Brian Duprey, who plays the role of Frank Sinatra in the show, about what fans can expect and how he came to embody the spirit of Ol’ Blue Eyes.
Ryan Loughlin: Tell us a bit about what fans can expect from “Rat Pack: Back in Town.”
Brian Duprey: People are going to get the unique experience of being transported back to the ’60s when the Rat Pack was THE show to see. So we’re kind of bringing back that flair and the retro vibe of that time period where everybody would dress up and go to the casinos. They can expect comedy, singing, a great band, great dancers and choreography. Its an incredible Broadway-style production.
RL: The Rat Pack often used a big band. What is the band setup for this show?
BD: It’s an orchestra. We have a rhythm section, four or five horns and strings, as well as someone playing a baby grand piano onstage. There are about 12 people in the ensemble.
RL: How did you manage to become a Frank Sinatra impersonator?
BD: It started when I was a kid. I originally had more of a tenor voice, but when I hit puberty my voice lowered and I became a baritone. I was partially raised by my grandmother, and she and my mom would listen to the old-school records from Frank Sinatra, and when I would sing along they took notice that I sounded a lot like Frank when I was singing. So it became a pastime for me. It was something I did on the side, and I didn’t really focus on it much until I decided it was something I wanted to do for a living.
I was in New Jersey working for a pharmaceutical company and started to take voice lessons from a woman in New York City who was in love with Frank Sinatra. I really learned a lot from her, because she knew his voice like the back of her hand. So I quit my job in pharmaceuticals, moved out to Vegas, and within a month I had my first gig singing Sinatra at Caesars Palace.
RL: Did you study the mannerisms of Sinatra, as well, or was your focus strictly on the musical side of it?
BD: I’m an actor, so I believe in doing a full tribute to him. I’m basically Frank Sinatra onstage. I react as Frank, I dress like Frank … everything.
RL: Who are the other Rat Pack members that will be portrayed in this show?
BD: We have Joe Scalise, who does Dean Martin, and Kenny Jones does Sammy Davis Jr., along with my wife Jami as Marilyn Monroe, plus an array of dancers and musicians onstage.
RL: What type of crowds do you get at a show like this? The acts you are portraying are obviously older, but they also have a universal appeal.
BD: We have a broad demographic, and there are actually a lot of younger people that come and appreciate the music simply because it’s sort of a timeless thing. And, of course, the Rat Pack were the epitome of cool, especially in New Jersey and the East Coast. The Rat Pack will always live on around here.