In the prime of Frank Sinatra's performance days, the tuxedo-donned crooner serenaded his audiences dressed in sophisticated suits and glamorous gowns with his catalog of hit jazz standards in the classiest of lounge settings.
That same atmosphere is captured in the theatrical musical production "My Way," which pays tribute to Sinatra's music and legacy performing for his millions of adoring fans. A couple of years ago, Capital City Productions saw just how loved Sinatra truly is through sold-out performances of this musical revue, and its director Rob Crouse decided to captivate audiences once again with a new show from the same creators, "Christmas My Way: A Sinatra Holiday Bash" on Dec. 6-8, 13-15 and 20-22 at Shikles Auditorium, 1200 Linden Drive.
"Frank Sinatra speaks for himself. The name lends itself to sitting back, relaxing and just enjoying yourself while everyone entertains you. That was Frank's M.O.," said David Baker, a veteran Capital City Productions actor since 2002 who performed in the theater's production of "My Way" and returns to the stage to perform in "Christmas My Way."
"In this show, you get the best of both worlds. You get the Frank crooner standards and Christmas songs as well. That makes for a great holiday show for everyone."
Crouse said "Christmas My Way" is like going to a nightclub, with those lounge-style glimpses from the cast and stories about his life along the way, learning about Sinatra in projections on the screen and interaction with the audiences.
"The real difference between the original 'My Way' and this show is the Christmas music and tying in more of Frank's stories of what he thought about Christmas, not just the life and times of Frank," said cast member Tori Lee Stepanek, another veteran Capital City Productions actor who starred as Belle in the theater's presentation of "Beauty and the Beast" last year. "It is the same style of humor and show you would expect."
Murphy Ward, who will be in his third show with Capital City Productions, said the script is adapted and interjects some dialogue in between the 40-plus songs presented in "Christmas My Way," including Sinatra's "That's Life" and "The Lady is a Tramp" he will sing.
"My character is more comedic, so I drop a few more jokes than others. I try to keep them laughing and having fun," he said.
Baker, Stepanek and Ward join a true Mid-Missouri all-star cast of theater singers including Tim Bommel, Katie Farr, Jordyn Mercer, Kit Meyer, Troy Ludwig, Madelyn Beach, Alex Armstrong and Michele Curry who will each perform solo Sinatra hits and Christmas songs, along with some ensemble pieces like "Sleigh Ride" and "Ringing Silver Bells," which is a new take on "Carol of the Bells" the ladies will deliver.
"This incredible line of singers participating in the show is amazing. Everybody has their featured numbers, but there are some group numbers and we'll have a big tap number in the show, too," Crouse said.
The combination of Sinatra's hits like "New York, New York," "Night and Day" and "My Way" and Christmas classics like "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," "What Child Is This?" "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" make for a Christmas show that would make Sinatra smile. Singers were enthused to select some of their favorites like Bommel, who recently starred in "Newsies" and "Cabaret" and will sing "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Fly Me to the Moon."
However, like he said, "You still have to chose four songs out of all the songs Sinatra has ever written, so it is like choosing between children. It is not something you do easily."
"When Rob told me a few months ago we were doing a Frank Sinatra show, I was like sign me up. I don't care what I'm doing, just put me in it. I love Frank Sinatra," Armstrong added. "My dad and I have always been big Sinatra fans. We listen to his music during car rides and around Christmas time. It will be hard for me not to mimic the Sinatra style. You have to put your own personality in there, but you don't want to go too far off the beaten path."
With that homage properly paid to Sinatra, the singers are also excited to give adequate representation to the Sinatra-style atmosphere and Christmas favorites everyone will love. Kit Meyer, who has participated in Capital City Productions for five years and recently played Violet in "9 to 5, The Musical," said she will be singing "Santa Baby" and "O, Holy Night."
"There is a 180-degree difference between those songs," she said with a laugh.
Many singers are also excited to sing holiday tunes with special meaning to them, like Jordyn Mercer.
"One of the Christmas songs I'll sing is 'The Christmas Song.' That is one of my mom's favorite songs ever and she is a singer as well and always sings that at the house," she said. "When I told her I was singing that in the show, she was like, 'Oh, I'm going to cry.'"
A trio of talented musicians will provide live music to performances and lounge atmosphere, with the set acting as an important character to the production. Meyer said the theater is going to be transformed into an amazing Christmas-themed cocktail lounge with light blue, white and crystal everywhere.
"It will be so gorgeous and the fact we are halfway sold out already speaks for the quality of this production and this theater," she said.
"Nate (Grey, Capital City Productions president) has outdone himself on the set again," Crouse added, noting a large bar, two-story setting and baby grand piano will add to the elegant, inviting set. "It is going to be just amazing. The guys are in tuxes and women in flowing gowns. Sinatra will be pleased with the set and style of this show."
Newer to the CCP family, Katie Farr and Ward said they keep coming back because of the opportunities Capital City Productions offers — musicals, plays, music revues like "Christmas My Way" and, most importantly, a strong theater family.
"I love the investment of a community theater, how much people put into it. You do it because you want to. I do a lot of theater stuff at the university (in Columbia), but it is fun to come participate in shows here. It is a different environment and always a professional grade theater," Ward said.
That is why the CCP family encourages everyone to come see "Christmas My Way" and be a part of their family for the evening. It is a family-friendly show filled with music and truly has something everyone can enjoy.
"It is great for someone young who wants to come to a live show, see the glitter and lights, for someone who is a diehard Frank Sinatra fan or those who love the Christmas atmosphere," Mercer said.
Included at "Christmas My Way," guests will enjoy its classic holiday dinner buffet, prepared by Argyle Catering. As of press time, tickets remain for evening performances Dec. 6 and Dec. 20-22, and matinee performances Dec. 8, 15 and 22. Doors open at 6 p.m. for evening performances and 11:30 a.m. for matinee performances.
As part of CCP's Pay It Forward program, they will be collecting food for the Samaritan Center and also contributing to Little Box of Sunshine during this production. For more information or to purchase tickets, call 573-681-9612 or visit capitalcityproductions.org.