THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Sinatra and Me
Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zedel, London W1
By Jarlath O'Connell
Richard Shelton is a talented, LA based, English actor/singer who does the best Sinatra impersonation you will ever hear. In this cabaret turn he gives us a glimpse of what made his performance in Rat Pack Confidential so special.
Shelton goes beyond mimicry and totally inhabits the voice. He has an actor’s instinct for a lyric and mercifully doesn’t embellish with his personal vocal stylings. Instead he reproduces Sinatra’s dark, rich, warm, baritone with such effortless precision that you are totally transported. He even manages to connect with Sinatra’s vulnerability, which is of course what singled him out and made him an icon.
Where Shelton falters is in overly framing the material around the “synchronicities” with his own life story. They’re the same suit size and he even dons a tuxedo owned by the man himself. He also recounts his LA exploits with the Sinatra family.
When your voice and performance is this good though you don’t need the cruise liner shtick, which eventually grates with an English audience. People who’ve never heard of Sinatra are unlikely to go to this show, so why waste time with New York New York and My Way? You can hear them in any elevator and dusting off some of the lesser known songs would have been cleverer.
Crazy Coqs allows a backing track this time but all is forgiven as you have to hear this glorious voice blending with some tasteful, well chosen, big band arrangements.