By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer
Officials of the James E. Winner Jr. Arts and Culture Center wanted a classy show to open their theater series at the burgeoning Sharon venue.
“Who’s more classy than him?” said Executive Director Nathan Matt, speaking of Frank Sinatra.
While Sinatra was unavailable, his music lives on in “My Way – A Tribute to Frank Sinatra,” which will be staged at 8 p.m. June 20-22 at ACC, 98 E. State St.
The cabaret-style show, created by David Grapes and Todd Olson, features 54 Sinatra tunes sung by two men and two women. The songs are grouped by theme – cities, the moon, losers, Broadway – and divided with stories about Sinatra’s professional and personal life.
There’s no story or plot, but the interaction between the two couples who meet in a bar called Frank’s helps to set the mood, said director Maria Ackley.
The round-fronted, 180-seat Theater on 3 stage will be decorated the same as the audience environment – with cafe tables and chairs and a bar – and performers and audience are supposed to be patrons of the club.
“The audience will be an extension of the stage,” Ackley said. “The new stage lends itself to this kind of show.”
Amy Caraballo of Hermitage, one of the singers, said she likes the newly constructed stage.
“There’s not anything else like it” around here, she said.
The singers said they are not trying to mimic Sinatra’s patented singing style. Tony Paglia of Mercer said he wants to express the emotion in the song. Tony Roberts of Hermitage said he hopes people recall specific memories triggered by the songs, whether it be their wedding, a first kiss or some other significant event.
Roberts also said he is looking forward to “connecting with the audience, to the music, and watching people’s faces light up.”
Caraballo said she is a big fan of the female singers of Sinatra’s heyday, and is trying to evoke them more than Sinatra.
Samantha Leali of Hermitage is a Sinatra fan from way back – she even has a Sinatra Barbie doll – and said he represents something musically that is rare today.
“He actually sings,” said Leali, a music teacher at Shenango High School in New Castle.
“So often, I think the music our children are exposed to is not as pure as it could be,” she said.
Roberts said he has always wanted to be part of a Sinatra show, and is happy that this show is among one of several initiatives to bring people back to downtown Sharon.
The building sat dormant for several years after the Vocal Group Hall of Fame and Museum moved out.
“It’s an honor to be a part of a relaunching of this place,” Paglia said.
Maureen Murray-Jaklic is music director of “My Way” and will lead bassist Joshua Noble and drummer Timothy Marley from the piano.
Other shows in the series are “A Pocketful of Rhymes,” July 18-20; “Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical,” Sept. 26-28; and “The Wonderful Wonderettes,” Oct. 24-26 and Nov. 7 and 8.
Tickets: 724-983-8222, or at 6 p.m. the night of the shows. Information: www.accsharon.com