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Bringing the sounds of the Rat Pack to the Kimmel Center

The Philly POPS orchestra presents an evening of timeless big band classics.
Singer and composer Michael Andrew performs in the style of Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin across the country. | Provided
Singer and composer Michael Andrew performs in the style of Frank Sinatra and Bobby Darin across the country. Provided

Philly POPS will make you feel like spring has sprung with “Sinatra & Friends” early next month.

The upcoming POPS show features big band vocalist Michael Andrew and Broadway singer Ashley Brown. Andrew sang with the POPS for a sold-out Sinatra tribute in 2015. Andrew and POPS Music Director Michael Krajewski are curating a program to highlight the beloved singer and his peers.

The performance will pay homage to Sinatra’s fellow Rat Pack members Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, in addition to songs composed by Great American Songbook composers like Cole Porter, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. The Songbook isn’t an actual book, but rather a celebrated spoken collection of great American jazz and popular songs from the 1920s to the 1950s.

“A lot of great writers were no  just capturing emotions with lyrics, but embodying them with the melody and chord progressions,” Andrew says. “Sinatra loved to truly act the song as well as sing it.”

Ol’ Blue Eyes had a certain swagger and confidence in his voice during songs like “Come Fly With Me”, and a meltworthy softness in his many love songs. “All or Nothing at All” is one of Sinatra’s most notable works, with four different versions and recordings between 1939 and 1977. Philly POPS and Andrew will show off their ranges as much as Sinatra’s during a compilation of the four versions that go from ballad to disco.

“It’s like looking at a cake,” Andrew says. “We only see the icing and the message on the cake until we dig into it. It’s cool to create this kind of arrangement and show what makes them different.”

Maestro Krajewski has another twist planned for the show. Channeling a performance by Celine Dion, Brown will sing “My Way.”

“We think it’ll be great to have a female voice for that song,” Krajewski says. “We’re putting the focus on Sinatra for this program, but we want to surprise people with some of the variety. Having Ashley [Brown] will give us the freedom to perform some of the duets Sinatra did with  Liza Minnelli and Dinah Shore.”

Pulling off this type of show is tricky without top notch musicians. Singers were almost secondary to the musicians in the ensemble during the big band era.

“The orchestra was designed to present popular music,” Andrew explains. “Sinatra was so discerning in the studio and every aspect of his performance. He wanted the best of the best, and the best in an era where music was at a very sophisticated peak.”

If you go:
Sinatra & Friends
April 6 to April 8
Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts
300 S. Broad St.
$35 to $151
phillypops.org