Review Of Laughternoon, starring Adam London

Updated 04/09/2000

Laughternoon, starring Adam London (CLOSED)

By Chuck Rounds

"The Rat Pack is Back", and showing at the Congo room inside the Sahara Hotel and Casino. It is the attempt to recreate a show set in 1961 by the famous "Rat Pack"--Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Joey Bishop. The recreation is very successful. The show (backed by a live orchestra) is a terrific evening of songs, comedy and nostalgia. The entertainers are certainly not "look alikes" to these famous people. In this instance, though, I think that this is a good thing because it seems as if the production went for talent rather than looks--often times a novelty. I certainly appreciate this choice by the production team. These are talented performers, and each of them shows us the style and characteristics of their charge, and while they may each lack "the look," they more than make up for it in their talent, and we in the audience do not fail to see each of the people that these performers represent. The exchanges and interplay between each of these performers is wonderful. Th ey seem to play off of each other very well. All of the dialogue and quips that they exchange back and forth certainly sounds spontaneous rather than rehearsed. One of the especially nice and interesting things about this show is that while they are recreating a lounge act of the past, the performers freely acknowledge the present--as if the characters are somehow omniscience as well. The Sammy Davis performer sings, "Mr. Bojangles," and let’s us know that he’ll be recording that tune sometime in 1968--seven years after this recreation. It is a nice touch that keeps the audience involved. The show starts out with "Joey" coming out and warming up the audience with a few jokes. Even though these are old jokes for the most part. The timing of this performer makes them seem fresh. From there we are introduced to "Frank," then "Dean," and finally, "Sammy." The rest of the evening is spent listening to the music that made these performers famous. All of the old songs are made new again. A lot of the aud ience members seemed to revel in remembering when they saw the real Rat Pack, and were thrilled that they could finally see them again. Several other things make this a complete evening. First of all, there is a live orchestra. Taped music has almost become the norm in this town, but it is not an adequate substitute for real musicians. The dynamics of a performance are so often lost with taped music. Each performance is unique, and if a performance is going to be inspired, it need the flexibility of a live orchestra. Secondly, is the long lost art of seating by tipping the maitre d'. The seats in the Congo room are not reserved. You’re taken in by an usher. Tip the man. If you want a better seat, tip him a bit more, and if you don’t care, then sit in the back with the rest of the non-tippers. It is, however, part of the fun. Those people under fifty have heard about this game, but have never gotten to experience it. If you feel flush, it is a fun game to play. Finally, there is the fact that you watch all of the performers drink and smoke on stage. In these times of anti-smoking and anti-drinking, we are reminded of the time when drinking and smoking were much more socially acceptable. It is almost a shock to see a lit cigarette on stage, but again, it is all part of a more complete recreation. "The Rat Pack is Back" is a fun show, and you don’t have to be part of that generation to enjoy it. These are simply talented performers working in a good production.