The Songs of Sinatra

Written on September 10th, 2012

Old Blues Eyes Times Seven

Note:  This review was written in September 2012; however, you can now see The Songs of Sinatra on stage at the Drayton Festival Theatre, Drayton, running May 9 to June 1, 2013. 

Take the Sinatra Seven, add 84 songs, cram it into 2½ hours and you’ll get a very appreciative full house.

The summer season at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia wraps up with The Songs of Sinatra, and it is already proving to be a big hit. Tickets sales are so strong that they have added five extra shows, extending the season to September 23.

Seven young men sing the songs originally made famous by the late great Frank Sinatra. Two of the singers are home-grown, coming from different corners of Lambton County. Michael Vanhevel hails from Grand Bend, while Chris Zonneville comes from Sarnia. I attended this show with the sole purpose of seeing these two perform – they are favourites of mine – and they both sound better than ever. Lambton-ites can be proud of the local talent once again. And the good news is that the other five didn’t disappoint either.

The seven harmonize together or take turns singing solo. Most of the time all seven are on stage, and a good-looking group they are, dressed alike in formal wear. They provide tidbits of trivia from the life and times of Frank Sinatra between songs. Many songs are grouped in medleys, enabling creator/director David Rogers to pack 84 Sinatra numbers into one show.

Old Blue Eyes was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1915, and in 1935 he won a radio talent show, launching him on his way to becoming the Chairman of the Board and the Leader of the Rat Pack. The songs are collected into various categories, such as love songs, Cole Porter hits, show tunes, and even a collection of travel songs, where each singer grabs a suitcase and sings about a destination – of course, they all end up in New York, New York.

Michael Vanhevel, at only 20 years old, has the smoothest Frank style. His rendition of It was a Very Good Year has an unbelievably mature sound.

All the Sinatra favourites are present: Night and Day, You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You, Strangers in the Night, Luck be a Lady, That’s Life, and the classic My Way. Credit goes to musical director Mark Payne and his small band for creating a very realistic big band sound to back the singers.

There were a couple of guests, too. Dean Martin, complete with whiskey and cigarette, sings Everybody Loves Somebody, thanks to Chris Zonneville’s very respectable impression. In typical Rogers & Hogan style, there is some corny fun: The Rat Pack is completed with Liza Minnelli – but unfortunately, she doesn’t sing.

When you drive into Petrolia, the town is decorated for autumn: hundreds of colourful and funny scarecrows are hanging from lamp posts or piled on a wagon in the park in front of Victoria Playhouse. A couple of scarecrows are even canoeing on the pond. In the theatre, during the singing of “Love and Marriage” (yes, the theme song from the old TV show “Married…with Children” is a Sinatra hit) rag-doll brides resembling the town’s scarecrows dance on stage with some of the Sinatra Seven. I think someone needs to do a scarecrow head count; there may be a few missing.

For any Sinatra fan, this show is an absolute must-see. But anyone else who appreciates good voices and harmonies will also enjoy this impressive group of seven.

The Songs of Sinatra continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until September 23. Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit

The Songs of Sinatra
Directed by David Rogers
Choreographed by Adele MacKenzie
Musical direction by Mark Payne
Performed by Kevin Forestell, George Krissa, Graham Parkhust, Adam Proulx, Chris Sams, Michael Vanhevel, and Chris Zonneville
Victoria Playhouse, Petrolia
September 7 to 16, 2012 *** Held over to September 23
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

One Response to “The Songs of Sinatra” | Add Your Thoughts

  1. How I wish I could get to Petrolia, Grand Bend, Drayton, London and especially Stratford the way you do. But I guess you’re the next best.


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