My ticket said The Rat Pack At Christmas but it could just as well have read Crowd-Pleasers Unlimited, for what went down for 75 minutes at Cadogan Hall on 12 December was a little more than an hour of post-war hysteria preserved in amber.
Technically we’re talking post-lockdown hysteria because what I found myself in the middle of was an SRO venue denied access to live entertainment for what seemed an eternity basking in the multi-talents of Stephen Triffitt, Mark Adams, and George Daniel Long, who have been doing very nicely, thank you, portraying respectively Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr to sold out houses at home and abroad for several years. They were aided and abetted by Hannah Lindsay and a swinging octet who contrived to sound twice the size.
I wasn’t present at any celebrations in either November 1919 or May 1945, but had they been bottled, transported to Cadogan Hall on 12 December 2020 and then uncorked around 5.30pm they would surely have felt right at home and blended seamlessly with the prevailing euphoria.
It’s A Most Wonderful Time Of The Year was a perfect opening, possibly because it has no strong associations with any member of the original Rat Pack. That freedom allowed the performers to strut their stuff as an ensemble rather than individuals; there was time enough for signature songs as the evening progressed.
We were only 12 days and change from Christmas, so we were happy to sit still for such seasonal entries as Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Santa Clause Is Coming To Town, Marshmallow Moon, Jingle Bells, Silent Night, The Christmas Song and White Christmas itself, but these were leavened with such tried-and-true material as That’s Amore, Mr. Bojangles and My Way.
If Mark’s uptempo Old Man River seemed a tad incongruous, his duet with Hannah on Frank Loesser’s Baby, It’s Cold Outside was right on the money. Solo-wise, Stephen weighed in with Almost Like Being In Love and George with Come Back To Me. The crowd, swaying along from the first, had been itching to get into the action so when Mack The Knife came up they fell on it like starving wolves on a lamb chop and the joint was really jumping. Side By Side and New York, New York kept the atmosphere simmering to a fare-thee-well.
Then, all too soon, it was time to go time. A standing ovation failed to buy an encore and now, as I write, only hours later, it’s in the ether, rubbing elbows with some tasty stuff: Judy’s gig at Carnegie Hall, The Gettysburg Address, the first night of Hamlet… But in this case I can say “I was there”.
The Rat Pack At Christmas, Cadogan Hall, London; 12 December 2020