Talkin' Broadway V.J.

The Rat Pack is Back!

David Cassidy says he's dodging bullets! When interviewed on Friday's edition of Entertainment Tonight he talked about the lawsuit his show faces in Las Vegas. And that show is The Rat Pack is Back! in which the performers impersonate Frank, Dean, Joey and Sammy. Everything was going fine until Nancy Sinatra paid the show a visit and shortly afterward Cassidy was notified that the heirs of the Sinatra family were suing for copyright infringement. They're not suing to close the show down, but to get a piece of the action, a piece which one would need a "magnifying glass to find the profits" says Cassidy. "The show is in the red."

It's an interesting case because there are many impersonators around Las Vegas. Legends in Concert is a whole show which does live impersonations of Elvis, Sinatra, The Righteous Brothers, Cher and many others. Danny Gans makes a living doing hundreds of impressions. So, why is Cassidy being singled out? There is a law protecting performers who do impersonations and I believe Nevada is the only state to have such a protection for these artists.

A few years ago Joan Rivers sued Frank Marino for doing his show An Evening at La Cage. And she sued for 6 million dollars! Frank, who looks, dresses, and talks like Joan, settled with the star out of court. As a result he can't use the phrase "Can we talk?" which is Joan's trademark. And it's trademark or copywright infringement that the Sinatra camp claims the Cassidy show violates.

Well, I don't know about that. We were in the audience the same night that the Entertainment Tonight people visited the show. Based on what I've seen around town I don't see any copyright infringements, but then again, I'm not a legal-beagle. So, the courts will have to settle it. Either way, Cassidy loses. It's his money which is backing the show and win or lose, who needs the expense and aggravation of a court battle? Should it ever go to court and the Sinatra clan win, there will be a lot of unemployed performers around Vegas town.

Here's our Las Vegas Regional column which takes a look at the show. You be the judge.

It's December 12, 1961 and we're in the Desert Inn showroom to celebrate the Chairman of the Board's 46th Birthday. Frank Sinatra performed that night and was joined by the legendary members of "The Rat Pack", Joey Bishop, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. Although in the show their last names are not mentioned it's pretty obvious who they are. David Cassidy and Don Reo came up with the concept for this show which works as a highly entertaining piece of musical theatre.

The Rat Pack is Back! is a recreation of that infamous night. What appears to be an impromptu visit by Joey, Dino and Sammy was actually a very polished and rehearsed performance by these legendary entertainers, all of whom are gone, with the exception of Joey.

And it's Joey, Hiram Kasten, who starts the show with a riotous monologue filled with jokes of that era. His comic timing is so on the money that not only did he have the audience in stitches, he magically transported us back in time to 1961.

Bobby Caldwell, as Frank, was introduced. Out comes the Chairman in a black tuxedo and begins the night singing "Come Fly With Me." I couldn't believe my ears. His Sinatra vocal impersonation is uncanny. This guy sounds exactly like Frank. And he's backed up with a big 12 piece orchestra. At this point the audience was transfixed when good ol' Dino, drink in hand, stumbles from the audience to the stage and joins Frank on stage for some sparring.

"Everybody Loves Somebody" is Dino's, Steve Apple, first solo. Not only does he sound exactly like the legend, but even looks like him. Everything is there from the movements to the martini. Steve has been performing in The Dean Show around the country for the last few years so he's got him down pat.

When Sammy Davis Jr., Lonnie Parlor, entered the audience did a double take. You see, Lonnie is a dead-ringer for Sammy. It was many years ago when Lonnie was entertaining in a club in Reno when Sammy caught his act and encouraged him into doing an impersonation. Since 1978, he has been doing exactly that and he has Sammy down to perfection.

What follows is some riotous sparring between the four, with each getting their solo opportunities to belt out the standards which highlighted their careers. It's 90 minutes of first-rate entertainment. If you're a fan of the big band era and this is your type of music then The Rat Pack is Back! is not to be missed. Here, at Talkin' Broadway, we've only given 3 shows in Las Vegas a 5 star rating. Based on the entertainment value presented here in this very clever concept show, The Rat Pack is Back! receives our highest rating. Don't go expecting fancy sets or anything like that. But do go if you want to see and hear some terrific performers.

Although David Cassidy does not perform regularly in this show, he sometimes makes a guest appearance. He's currently busy writing a new show which he'll be appearing in at the Rio Hotel's showroom next year. Readers here will know him from his starring turns on Broadway in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or Blood Brothers. Since his heart throbbing teeny-bopper days of The Partridge Family, David has matured into a highly seasoned performer as evidenced by his starring role in EFX last year which attracted more than 1 million visitors.

When Frank announced that Bobby Darrin was in the audience, David took the stage and ripped into "Mack The Knife" with a vengeance. He absolutely tore the house down and I only hope he includes it in his new show. If anyone ever writes a show about Bobby, Cassidy is the guy to do it. EFX really didn't allow him to show off his talent. He's the recipient of two major Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year Awards in the last few years and one can easily see why.

The Rat Pack is Back! plays nightly in the Starlight Lounge of the Desert Inn Resort in Las Vegas. Performance schedule: Monday - Dark, Tuesday - 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm, Wednesday - 7:30pm, Thursday - 7:30 pm, Friday - 7:30 pm, Saturday - 7:30 pm & 10:00 pm, and Sunday - 7:30 pm. Tickets are $30.00 with a 2 drink minimum. Call (702) 733-4566 or (800) 634-6909 for the hottest ticket in town!

So there you have it. Should the Sinatra estate be paid royalties? And what about the estates of Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.? Or Joey Bishop for that matter. And what about Cher, Elvis, and the Righteous Brothers in those other shows? How about Trent Carlini in his one-man Elvis tribute or Dick Acosta at the Luxor impersonating everyone from Sinatra to Clinton?

Is David Cassidy doing anything wrong?

Is it a question of copyright infringement or does all of this simply reek of something else?

The answers are quite obvious to me.

See you Thursday!

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