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aasheltonRichard Shelton as Frank Sinatra

A SHOW that brilliantly captures one of the world’s greatest entertainers at a specific moment in time is coming to Sunderland.

Sinatra: RAW captures Old Blue Eyes at The Purple Room, Palm Springs in 1971, his last pre-retirement show, and arrives at The Fire Station, Sunderland on Sunday, November 5.

The show was written by and stars Richard Shelton, internationally acclaimed as one of the world’s best interpreters of Frank Sinatra’s music.

Richard, known to British TV audiences for a two-year stint as the murderous Dr Adam Forsythe in Emmerdale, portrayed Sinatra in Rat Pack Confidential on the London stage. He is known to TV audiences in the US, where he is now based in LA, for roles in Jane The Virgin and House of Lies.

As a singer he has recorded albums at London’s Abbey Road Studios and at Capitol Studios in LA.

He has performed for British and European royalty, at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Catalina Jazz Club, Vibrato and Vitello’s Jazz in LA, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

The play – performed as a cabaret show – debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018 after the idea came to Richard when he was actually performing in The Purple Lounge.

He said: “The guy who runs the Lounge told me how Frank Sinatra had stood on this stage at this tiny supper club in Palm Springs and performed In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning. That was a very dark period of his life because he’d split from Ava Gardner and he was morose

“This guy then explained that it was the birthplace of the Rat Pack and I said: ‘No, that was Vegas.’ He said, in this room, when Sinatra was singing from this album, it was all so dark and depressing, Dean Martin was in the audience and he shouted out: ‘For god’s sake, lighten up, pally’ and Sinatra said something back and the room relaxed, it was the actual beginning of that act.

“It just sparked something for me and I just thought this is a way to examine how Frank Sinatra must have felt when he got into his mid-fifties and decided to retire. What’s it like for an icon to face their own mortality, what’s it like for someone like Frank Sinatra to be in the 1970s and see the world changing, hate rock‘n’roll, how does that impact his psyche? So that’s what the play is about.

“The show starts with a very laidback intimate vibe in the room in which he played but then of course as he drinks, he reminisces more and he starts to, in his own mind, answer questions that have been raised and levelled against him, questions from the press and the mob allegation and his womanising, his drinking and all this comes up through both dialogue and song.

“The dialogue drives the songs, the songs don’t drive the dialogue, it’s a drama,” said Richard who wears one of Sinatra’s own tuxedos for the performance.

After portraying Sinatra in Rat Pack Confidential, Richard went on to create two Sinatra-themed one-man-shows, A Very Good Year in 2015 and Sinatra and Me in 2016.

Sinatra: RAW is the result of years of Richard’s research from published material, but he is more interested in feelings and relationships. He explained: “I’ve tried to be meticulous, but I’m not a walking Frank Sinatra encyclopedia. I’m more interested in how he felt fighting for the role of Angelo Maggio in From Here to Eternity, having studios and record labels turn their backs on him and how working with Nelson Riddle was like a rebirth.”

To book tickets, go to https://sunderlandculture.org.uk/events/sinatra-raw/