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Tribute to Sinatra's Christmas Classics a Holiday Treat at El Portal

Two hours of holiday tunes sung by Ol' Blue Eyes are being performed by four talented singers at the local venue through New Year's Eve.

If you want to hear popular Frank Sinatra Christmas songs, standards and so much more, make your way to Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash running through New Year's Eve at El Portal Theatre in the NoHo Arts District.

The show is presented by Weddington Street Productions in association with Summerwind Productions.

In the history of entertainment in the 20th century, it's tough to find an entertainer who had more influence than Francis Albert Sinatra.

As a singer, Oscar-winning actor, writer, director and producer, Sinatra’s successes and failures, both personal and public, were well-documented.

The Rat Pack, which he organized and performed with, along with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Shirley Maclaine  roamed the stages of Las Vegas and beyond to international acclaim.

Four performers (Luca Ellis, Jason Graae, Heather Lee and Beth Malone) touch on these events in Sinatra’s life while singing, sashaying and strutting through nearly 30 Sinatra classics.

Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded 31 Christmas songs and 22 Christmas albums, but wrote only one Holiday tune, “Mistletoe and Holly.”

Beginning with that number, the show presents two acts of mainly Sinatra Christmas favorites divided into nine sets.

The two hours are intelligently planned, paced and spontaneously performed, even though the second act is more engaging than the First.

Stand-outs include “Chicago,” sung energetically by Graae, “New York, New York,” performed powerfully by Ellis, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” sung gracefully by the quartet, and “An Old-Fashioned Christmas” performed singularly by Ellis.

“New York Christmas” with holiday classics such as “The Christmas Song,” “Christmas Memories,” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” proves to be the best set of the evening.

The direction by David Grapes II is crisp, free-flowing and imaginative. It allows the four performers to talk and improvise with the audience in-between songs.

The musical direction as well as the musical and vocal arrangements by Vince di Mura are top-notch. They do not miss a beat and capture the spirit and essence of Sinatra, the singer and the man.

There is not one badly performed or arranged song in the program.

Todd Olson’s book is well-conceived and flawlessly delivered. At times touching and moving, it would make Sinatra himself giddy with Christmas pleasure.

Ellis (Man #1) who has mastered the singing style, phrasing and intonation of Sinatra, is a powerhouse performer and crooner. He follows his starring role as Frank Sinatra in the musical Hoboken To Hollywood with a masterful turn here. His solos are the highlight of the show.

Graae (Man #2) is a Broadway performer who has a pleasant voice and a very comical and people-oriented stage presence. He does not miss a beat and puts his heart and soul into every moment on stage.

Lee (Woman #1) steals the show. Her ditzy blonde stage presence belies a powerful voice that adds to the foursome and gives the audience a deeper understanding of who Sinatra was in private and public.

Malone (Woman #2) betters or equals her portrayal of June Carter Cash on Broadway in Ring Of Fire here with a passionate comprehension of the unique relationship Sinatra had with his audiences and fans. She is a perfect and durable fit.

All in all, Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash possesses more depth, humor and sensitivity than many musicals and plays not simply because of its subject, but for those who created and performed it, who are inspired, interlocked and re-invented through it.

Showtimes: Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday & Sunday at 3 p.m. Special New Year’s Eve Performances: Monday, Dec. 31 at 4 p.m and 9 p.m.. El Portal Theatre, 11206 Weddington Street, North Hollywood, CA 91601.

Tickets: $45-$55 Regular Performances; $60-$120 New Year’s Eve. Reservations: 818-508-4200 or 866-811-4111.   

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