I've been to many community melodrama's and dining adventures/shows but when it came to talent...... man, I got WAY more than I expected at this one!
A girlfriend I work with and I had a last-minute opportunity to attend a packed performance of "Welcome to the Rat Pack Revisited" here at the FCLO (http://www.fclo.com/) in June. It was dubbed 'an evening of music and memories under the stars...... " but it was way more than that, it was talent equaled to those Rat Packers of long-ago!
We walked in a bit early and had our names checked on the guest list and continued to the bar area for a drink before the show was to start. The beer and wine prices were very reasonable, then we made a bit of chit-chat with other Rat-Pack fans in the reception area. The stage area opened and we were seated at a great round table with a beautiful centerpiece, candle and table cloth.
Almost immediately there was a delicious sit-down dinner served by candlelight as Lettie and I sat at our table with 2 couples in the Skyroom's costume-department-provided fur coats and suit jacket's (to keep warm through the evenings performance).
Bread was brought out before the salads, delicious lasagna dinners were followed by coffee and sinfully amazing chocolate fudge and raspberry dessert, it was DEVINE! The dishes were being cleared when the stage lit up and the entertainers for the evening were in front of us in amazing gowns and suits. The girls were in their first costumes for the night, black evening gowns with satin gloves and the men in tux's --- the elegance of the 1960's and the Rat Pack was INSTANTLY REVIVED!
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr were there in spirit AND on stage! Don Lucas, Randy Gianetti and Desmond Newson were the Rat's and their lovely lady pack consisted of Lisa Donahey and Leslie Scott accompanied by an awesome LIVE 9-piece band.
I have to say, Lisa Donahey, impressed me with her CD She's Got It Covered - http://www.lisadonahey/... - but she BLEW ME AWAY with her rendition of Mr. Bojangles..."I knew a man Bojangles and he'd dance for you, In worn out shoes, With silver hair, a ragged shirt, and baggy pants, The old soft shoe, He jumped so high, jumped so high, Then he lightly touched down..." her voice and those lyrics gave me goosebumps and watery eyes, it was beautiful! Lisa was adorable dancing on stage with Desmond (young Sammy Davis Jr) and left a great little red lipstick kiss print on his cheek..... Desmond's voice was perfect in the Candy Man! He opened his mouth and out of nowhere this voice came belting out of that young man and ........ wow, just WOW!
Newcomer to the stage was Leslie Scott, she was new to the FCLO but has many popular roles behind her -- her voice is rich and flowing and both she and Lisa danced and sang around the guys as arm candy for the handsome versions of Frank, Dean and Sammy ;)
Don Lucas sang "I did it my way" at the end of the evening and it made me think of Frank AND Elvis, powerful notes coupled with his suave appearance, yes he played this lady's man role PUUUUURFECTLY!
Randy was hilarious in the Dean Martin role, stumbling around like Dean used to .... cracking jokes and one liners to the drummers ba-dump-dump! Then singing tunes that would have made ol'Dean proud.
As I looked around the Skyroom, I couldn't help but notice this was an older crowd, more like the original Rat Pack followers than I. The women were dressed in their 'date night' dresses like those elegant evening gowns, with jewels dangling from their earlobes, necklaces delicately placed, and bits of flashy jewels adorning their wrists, some of the men were in suits (as obvious companions to their evening dress adorned dates), there were a few 40'somethings like me, but it was nice....... everything about this evening was fun, lots of smiling and laughing, it was entertaining as well as relaxing, and it was very, very, nice to have felt, if but for just a couple of hours, that we had been magically transported back to those night clubs of the 60's and personal guests of the original Rat Pack!
******* standing ovation **********
Lisa Donahey: Press
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER -June 15, 2011, Eric Marchese
Re-creating the style of entertainment forged by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and other members of the "Rat Pack" may be a lost art, but as long as performers like Don Lucas are around, fans of the genre won't have to say goodbye just yet.
Lucas' show, "Rat Pack Revisited," happens to be a very good fit with FCLO Music Theatre's summertime series at its outdoor "Skyroom" facility where, appropriately enough, the evening begins with cocktails and dinner before progressing to what amounts to the floor show.
Billed as "the timeless music of Frank, Dean and Sammy" and "an evening of music and memories," the compact, briskly paced yet relaxed show unfurls nearly three-dozen numbers that came to be associated with the trio during their "Rat Pack" days in the early 1960s – some of the best jazz, pop and musical theater songs of that era.
The show's first half opens with some half-dozen numbers associated with Dean Martin, then segues into songs popularized by Sammy Davis, Jr. The second act celebrates "Swoonatra," including an entertaining nine-song medley. And while Lucas states that he and his cast won't impersonate the Rat Packers, Randy Gianetti jokingly graces us with several Dino-like quips and Desmond Newson offers touches of Sammy.
What's crucial to note is that Lucas and company capture the spirit of the Rat Pack, with plenty of good-natured ribbing, bon mots, playfully naughty double entendres and self-deprecating humor.
Gianetti often does indeed evoke the ultra-relaxed Martin. He delivers a dynamic "Something's Gotta Give," sings Italian lyrics for "Evening in Roma" and, in "Luck Be a Lady," shows Sinatra's command of the stage.
Newson has the grace, charm and velvety-voice of a young Davis, Jr. or Nat King Cole, in fine form for "Candy Man" and "I've Got the World on a String." Leslie Scott's megawatt smile lends her a Julia Roberts-like persona that's put to good use for "That Old Black Magic" and an upbeat "A Foggy Day."
Lisa Donahey has a larger-than-life personality visible in songs like "All of Me" and the intense, pathos-washed "Mr. Bojangles," and she and Scott create appealing duets of "Bye, Bye Blackbird" and "Almost Like Being in Love."
Lucas has the earnest charm of all great stars, showcased in his many songs and epitomized in an at-first thoughtful and low-key, then resolute and defiant "My Way." More importantly, he's the dynamic, driving force of this show, working as director, musical director, master of ceremonies and conductor of the fine onstage nine-piece band that features the expert sax playing of Ed Peffer.
The evening's best moments include all five performers with a Rat Pack-like synergy that's swingy and fun and loaded with class and elegance. The songs indeed take us to "different places," as Lucas notes, and with this show, they also take us back to a time of fun and frolic, when hearts were light and free of care.
NEW REVIEW - THE BLUNDERS - October 12, 2009
Jon Berstein's site-specific comedy with music about L.A. ditherers and sweet loons is set in an L.A. bar-cabaret - cleverly using the environs of the Vermont Restaurant's cabaret room. This provides the opportunity and context for Lorna (Leslie Beauvais), Gretel (Celina Stachow) and Suzy (Lisa Donahey) to croon musical director Mitchell Kaplan's original songs (with additional lyrics by Bernstein), as well as excerpts from Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. Meanwhile the unrequited loves and stifled ambitions that play themselves out at the bar resemble a sitcom based on a Sondheim musical - unapologetically so. The parodies include Ezra (Marco Tazioli), a kind-hearted gravel-voiced sage perpetually frustrated in romance and by his over-the-limit credit cards, and who's mistaken for a Muppet character. We see him somewhat spinelessly or perhaps desperately duped by fly-by-night shrink Dr. Sylvia (Keli Daniels), a former canine psychiatrist who makes her living applying her doggy techniques to Angelenos. Heart-throb bartender Barry (Casey Sullivan) sends overweight Suzy's heart aflutter in what she thinks is a mutual romance but is merely Barry's attempt to exploit her job as a receptionist at Capitol Records. After about 30-minutes, the concept wears thin, because it's a dramatization of symptoms rather than underlying causes. Posing as an affectionate nod to life in our Industry town, it unwittingly provides grist to outsiders convinced of our city's superficial denizens. The sound design and/or actors use of mikes needs modifying in order to prevent distortion, though Donahey in particular has a gorgeous singing voice, and knows how to use it. Upright Cabaret at Vermont, 1714 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles; Wed., 9 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.; no minimum for dinner or drinks); through October 21. http//the blunders.com (Steven Leigh Morris)
Among other standouts, Lisa Donahey's radiant teapot Mrs. Potts, delivering a heart-rending rendition of the lovely title song.
The portrayals of the other minor characters were no less sparkling, including Lisa Donahey (a wonderful Mrs. Potts).
This is a really BIG BUDGET show by southland standards. You won't find this much flash for the cast anywhere west of the Jersey state line!! It's a fantastic story to begin with and the actors are up to the task of providing a complete replacement for the NY show that just closed. (Hey Disney, take these folks on the road and you'll sell out every show from coast to coast.) There are very strong performances by all the leads and the ensamble and dancers do themselves proud also. The only complaint I can give is that it's only running for 2 weekends with 13 performances!! BTW, the tickets are even being SCALPED online for 3 times the box office price!! That should tell you something!! THE WORD IS OUT....THIS IS THE HOT TICKET FOR THE WEEKEND!!
"Lisa Donahey Raises Her Voice to Raise Money for Deserving Children"
On July 9, 2005, Lisa Donahey, hosted ‘An Evening with Lisa Donahey’ to benefit Hillsides Volunteer Network (HVN), a residential and community treatment center that creates safe places for children at risk and their families in Pasadena, CA.
“Hillsides provides a safe, nurturing environment where children can prosper,” said Lisa. “I am honored and delighted to help support Hillsides’ mission through my music.”
Over 130 guests arrived at the Wells Fargo Theatre at the Autry National Center to witness Lisa’s performance of classic hits such as “I Feel the Earth Move”, "Dance to the Music", “Not That Kind of Girl” and “True Colors,” amongst many other hits.
The concert raised over $2000 which will go towards children's activities planned by HVN throughout the year.
Nanci Garni, Director of Development at Hillsides, was kind enough to share her thoughts on the evening - "The ‘Evening with Lisa’ to benefit Hillsides was truly magical. Lisa Donahey is a gifted singer and spirited performer. Lisa’s compassion, joy and grace came through in every number performed and each personal experience she shared with the audience. I left the evening feeling energized, as well as feeling deep gratitude that we have such wonderful friends supporting Hillsides."
Lisa, a Berklee College of Music graduate and “Outstanding Performer of the Year” has thrilled audiences through her live theatrical performances, television work and recordings. During her career, she has received many accolades, including being chosen to sing a musical tribute to pop singer Sting, jazz legend Nancy Wilson and The Manhattan Transfer.
"Lisa brings the music to life for me...her effervescent personality and incredible voice are truly magical."