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The Pack Is Back

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The Pack Is Back, at the Jazz Buffet. Like the Beatles, the Rat Pack will never reunite—except in deft impersonations and restoration revues like this one. The slim premise is that Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin return from heaven for a last fling with Frank Sinatra. The script (by Mark S. Rossella and producers John and Suzanne DuBiel) is choppy, but the show's two hours of nostalgia excuse it: these consummate showmen serve up signature songs and remember good times and groaner jokes. Embodying a kind of lazy class, they gather at Joe's piano bar, where Joe (pianist Peter Lanza) encourages them to play it again, one last time.

Ray Scott Crawford's staging provides a strong showcase for the three performers. Former ironworker Frank Fortuna is initially glum and stiff, but his Sinatra comes to glorious life when he belts out a conscientiously cloned "My Way" and sells every note in "Got the World on a String." Tony Ocean's heavy-drinking, chain-smoking Dean Martin is bibulous with sloppy patter and bad-boy high jinks, but he blends mellow into smooth in easy winners like "That's Amore," "Everybody Loves Somebody," and Martin's hybrid "When You're Drinking (Smiling)." Ocean's speech may verge on Rodney Dangerfield and his singing slip into Elvis, but this Dean remains true. Finally, there's Kenny Davis's fantastic Sammy Davis Jr., a character he fully established in Sammy, Black Ensemble Theater's hit musical. Wearing his patented Bojangles derby, Davis croons the stuffing out of "The Candy Man" and "I Gotta Be Me." When all three bring their patented stylings to "Chicago" and "The Lady Is a Tramp," it's a time trip 30 years back, to the peak of their careers. —Lawrence Bommer

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