Presented by Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed: 9 June 2014
For film-goers and TV watchers, Robert Davi needs no introduction. Famed for his roles in the films Die Hard, Predator 2 and the James Bond film Licence to Kill, he has gained a cult following. His rugged features have kept him in good stead whilst playing the most evil of baddies.
Those who have re-watched his films multiple times may be surprised by his foray into musical theatre. A protégée of worshipped crooner Frank Sinatra, his show Davi Sings Sinatra is an ode to his mentor. Showcasing his potent skills, Davi delivers proof that versatility in the entertainment world is a precious commodity one should always harness.
Pledging to sing tracks from the Great American Songbook, Davi doesn’t set out to impersonate Sinatra. What he successfully does is to emulate the power and emotion of Sinatra’s vocal style by re-injecting the passion to his songs. Come Fly with Me, New York, New York are given a fresh rendering by Davi’s powerful delivery.
The show got off to a somewhat uninspiring start with a 5 minute montage Davi’s acting roles. Whilst the intent in showing the audience the road he has thus far travelled was commendable the choice of clips was rather dubious. Featuring moments from his more violent films, it felt an inappropriate start to an evening promising 1950s-style class. Despite the bumpy beginning the show eventually made good on its potential.
Exuding the confidence of a seasoned veteran, Davi soon gained an enraptured audience. His performance skills obviously kept him in good stead in truly connecting with his listeners. Telling anecdotes about his connection to Sinatra and how each song influenced his singing, he ensured the show’s concept remained focussed. This allowed each number to effortlessly flow into the other with a good mixture of up-tempo and slow grooves.
Backed by a 14-piece musical entourage led by Musical Director Randy Waldman, Davi ensured his singing range was clearly heard although occasionally the music and lyrics became lost, as was evident during the jazzed-up version of Pennies from Heaven. This moment proved certain numbers should remain as written instead of forcibly changed – although that’s perhaps a matter of taste.
Despite some unusual creative choices, Davi’s show generally crafted a fine tribute to some of the 20th Century’s well written songs. Old Man River gained a standing ovation whilst A Foggy Day (In London Town) was sublimely executed. The latter showed off the staging which had a mock bar on the left and a bench and street-light on the right. With excellent use of lighting, you were transported by these images and lyrics. This highlighted Davi’s resolve in bringing the tunes to life with his affable easy-going nature generating an enjoyable experience.
Davi Sings Sinatra showed another side to an often feared screen villain. A passionate champion of classic crooner tracks, Davi has the abilities to carry on the mantle of singers past, ensuring their romantic allure never fades.
Reviewed by: Patrick Moore
Venue: Festival Theatre
Season: season ended
Duration: 1hr 10 mins