People might immediately think Elvis when it comes to Las Vegas, but before The King, the city jived to the tune of four entertainers who won over audiences with their cool musical stylings and playful stage demeanor.
During the 1960s, the Rat Pack - Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Dean Martin brought fame and recognition to the city as both an entertainment capital and gambling destination during their run inside the Copa Room at the Sands. Today, audiences can relive the revelry and timeless music of the Rat Pack era in the show The Rat Pack is Back at the Rio.
"What happens in Vegas all started with the Rat Pack," said the show's producer Dick Feeney. "The real legend of Vegas - the cool cats, the drinking, the partying, the gambling, they epitomized it, and people still look at those days with fond memories."
The Rat Pack is Back starts with a custodian mopping the stage and reminiscing about working at the Sands and hanging out with Frank and the guys.
"Boy those were the days. I sure do miss them," says the custodian before walking off stage.
Video clips of vintage Vegas play on screens hanging on both sides of the stage, reminding everyone of where the city's reputation as a glitzy and glamorous destination started.
The curtain opens and the 12-piece Lon Bronson orchestra gets the audience going with some toe-tapping music before performers portraying all the members of the Rat Pack enter the stage. They sing and dance, conveying all of the charisma and camaraderie of the real entertainers.
Dean takes center stage with drink in hand and fittingly sings, "Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes." His smooth voice and casual stage presence convey all the essence of the real performer. He pauses between songs for some playful joking with the audience.
"I'm on the whiskey diet," says Dean, "in one week I lost four days." Everyone laughs before he gets back to singing the Italian love song "That's Amore" where he invites the audience to join in.
He does a smooth rendition of "Ain't That a Kick in the Head," before Sammy Davis Jr. joins him on stage to sing "That Old Black Magic" and "What Kind of Fool Am I."
Just like the real Rat Pack, you never know who is going to come out on stage next. Sometimes the performers interrupt one another for some good old fashioned ribbing.
Later in the show, the four guys are joined by a beautiful woman portraying Marilyn Monroe. Wearing a red high-cut gown she sings "Happy Birthday" to a lucky guy in the audience.
Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean reunite on stage to belt out a few more classics including "Luck Be a Lady," "Lady is a Tramp" and "New York, New York." These four cool cats really know how to have a good time. By the end of the show you will too.
-- By Caroline Fontein