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MusicalFare takes another shot at Sinatra

Photo by David Grapes

About ten years ago, MusicalFare presented the musical revue My Way: A Tribute to Frank Sinatra, featuring four singers creating a Sinatra-esque atmosphere through a combination of performance and storytelling. Though the production was critically and commercially successful, MusicalFare artistic/executive director Randy Kramer believed more could be done.

“The Sinatra canon of songs is so rich and varied, I felt that the surface had barely been scratched with My Way,” Kramer says. “John Fredo [the star of MusicalFare’s My Way and numerous productions of it around the country] and I had talked about the tremendous possibilities for a new show. So I approached My Way creator David Grapes with a proposal that we work together and create something.”

Grapes, Kramer, and Fredo developed One for My Baby, which is about a middle-aged Sinatra impersonator who starts “looking at his life and feeling the need to discover who he really is,” Kramer says. “For most of his life, his job has forced him to be someone else. I think it’s something that many people can identify with.”

One for My Baby is “much more of a piece of theater” than My Way, Kramer says. “There is no breaking the fourth wall unless the main character, Jack Decarlo, is talking to the audience as Sinatra did. How does Decarlo go from being a Sinatra impersonator to being his own artist? It’s very difficult for him, as his Sinatra impersonation has made him a good living and is the only way he knows (legally) to make money. He has an ex-wife, a daughter he loves very much, and significant debts, so his road to self discovery has lots of complications.”
To play Decarlo, Kramer admits, “John Fredo was the only choice. He’s been eager to work on a new Sinatra project that will challenge him as an actor and a singer. This one will.”

Fredo says it is important for him to be a member of the development team, and that he’s discovering things about himself. Sometimes actors hesitate to provide too much input in a show, but here, “I’m not taking liberties,” he says. “I’m a viable creative entity whose input is expected and appreciated.”

Part of the show’s developmental process was a production and workshop that took place over five weeks in June at Colorado’s Little Theatre of the Rockies. “One of my regrets in the past with world premieres at MusicalFare is that I’ve felt we’ve always needed another production, as you learn so much from the first one,” Kramer says. He was in Colorado for the entire evaluation process, so MusicalFare audiences will benefit from any necessary changes and adjustments made.

“It’s nice to have a [different] place to go. You get a better sense of the universality of the piece,” Fredo says. “It’s wonderful to perform for a different audience. Kicks it up a notch.”

Marking a significant evolution in how MusicalFare creates new musicals, One For My Baby runs July 6 through August 6 at MusicalFare (839-8540).

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