Thursday, May 23, 2024

Sinatra Dance Show Soars, But Nancy Sinatra Sours


“Come Fly Away,” the sizzling, sexy Twyla Tharp dance show with the music of Frank Sinatra, is a hit. Last night’s opening was a smash, there were standing ovations and rave reviews.

The show is so good that even people who don’t go to the ballet–like yours truly– will dig it. Sinatra’s voice — heard in his famous recordings–has even grown as a wonder of the world. The orchestrations and musicians behind him now really seem like pure genius in the era of Lady GaGa and the Jonas Brothers.

But at the premiere after party at Roseland, the Sinatra family didn’t look so thrilled. As they waited for the New York Times review, the Sinatras looked like they were at a funeral. Nancy Sinatra, famous herself for “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” had her head in her hands and was bent over.

Congratulatory messages didn’t seem to bolster her. I commented that I liked the way Tharp had brought in Sinatra’s recording of “My Funny Valentine” on an extended note. It seemed very clever.

“It was too short,” Nancy responded.

“The show?” I asked.

“The song,” she said. “There are a few things that can be fixed.”

Well, you know the Chairman of the Board was tough. His daughter is only to be tougher.

Nevertheless, “Come Fly Away” is pretty damn good, really kind of elevating and ebullient. Tharp’s dancers are not kids. They’re seasoned professionals, toned within an inch of their lives. The legendary pop star of the generation following Sinatra, Neil Diamond, sat next to me and watched the show in awe.

“Look at that, unbelievable,” he said about five times.

“Would your songs be good with this?” I asked. “A little Cracklin’ Rosie?”

“No not at all. This for dancing, Everyone danced to Sinstra. Didn’t you?”

I did. I do.

Elsewhere in the very black tie glittering audience: Edie Falco, Jonathan Demme, Kathie Lee Gifford, Spike Lee, Peter Cincotti, Donald Trump, Bryan Cranston (Emmy winner from “Breaking Bad”). And Tony Bennett, who loved Sinatra so much he built a school in Queens and named it for him.

“Come Fly Away” is must see theater and dance. If you’re into all those reality dance shows on TV, this is the real thing. You won’t be able to watch D listers flop all over the stage after seeing Tharp’s troupe at work. They are breathtaking!

re: the show’s name change–Everyone included me thought this show was called “Come Fly with Me” after the famous Sammy Cahn-Jimmy van Heusen song. Hello! The song is played throughout the show. When it was first work shopped, that was indeed the title.

Why the change? No one’s saying, but in music publishing, if you name a show or a movie after an existing song, the publisher is allowed to charge vastly more money for its use. I know, believe me. I can only guess that ASCAP and Warner Chappell asked for too much when the request came. Other alternate titles could have been: “Hitchcraft,” “I’ve Got You Under My Epidermis,” and “My–Sorta–Way.”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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