Memories of holidays spent listening to the song stylings of Ol’ Blue Eyes come back to life in Christmas My Way – A Sinatra Holiday Bash!, now entertaining audiences at North Hollywood’s historic El Portal Theater.

CMY_B388 Featuring over two-dozen songs, seasonal and otherwise, all of them recorded at one time or another by Frank Sinatra during his sixty-year career, Christmas My Way stars Broadway vets Jason Graae, Heather Lee, and Beth Malone and the next-best-thing to the Man From Hoboken himself, Luca Ellis, the stellar quartet performing to the sounds of Vince di Mura and his swinging three-piece onstage combo.

Opening with “Mistletoe And Holly” (the only Christmas song Sinatra himself co-wrote), Christmas My Way alternates medleys of December favorites like “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” “The Christmas Waltz,” “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” and “Winter Wonderland” with Sinatra standards like “Witchcraft,” “Old Devil Moon,” “Fly Me To The Moon,” “Come Rain Or Come Shine,” “Night And Day,” and “I Get A Kick Out Of You.”

And what would a Sinatra show be without “That’s Life” and the evening’s encore, “My Way”?

CMY_A065 Briskly directed by David Grapes, who co-created Christmas My Way with Todd Olson, the holiday musical revue intersperses show-stopping performances with bits of Sinatra trivia, anecdotes, a joke or two along the way—and more than a few ad libs, as when Graae launched into “Oh You Crazy Moon” only to reveal that he’d completely made up the two stanzas he’d just sung. Oh, and there’s a hilarious audience sing-along to “The Twelve Days Of Christmas”—with new lyrics Sinatra himself might have penned.

CMY_A272 As for the cast, it’s hard to imagine a more talented bunch than those onstage at the El Portal.

Los Angeles theatergoers know Graae, Lee, and Malone as among our most treasured musical theater stars. Graae’s impish grin and rich, resonant pipes, Lee’s classic comedienne prettiness and lilting soprano, and dark-haired stunner Malone’s big Broadway belt are as good as it gets, and Broadway’s loss is our fair city’s gain.

CMY_A081 As for Ellis, El Portal regulars will surely recall his holiday debut three years ago in A Vegas Holiday! Songs From “Live At The Sahara,” about which this reviewer raved that “heartthrob-handsome Luca Ellis a vocal dead-ringer for Frank Sinatra.” Then came his smash run as a Sinatra-esque crooner in the Edgemar Theatre’s much-extended Hoboken To Hollywood. Thus, it hardly comes as a surprise that the El Portal has brought the debonair six-footer back to headline Christmas My Way, once again giving Frankie more than a run for his money. (Someone give this man a major record deal and his very own Vegas show!)

Christmas My Way looks absolutely sensational on Bruce Goodrich’s gorgeous, Christmas tree-laden set, with more great big multicolored hanging ornaments than I could possibly count, lit to ever-varied perfection by Jeremy Pivnick. The production’s uncredited sound design makes everyone sound as great as they look in Gene Barnhart’s stunning costumes.

Di Mura is joined onstage by James Leary III on bass and Jimmy Ford on drums. Dierdre Murphy is production stage manager. Ann Myers is assistant director.

CMY_B150 There’s something for nearly everyone in Christmas My Way – A Sinatra Holiday Bash!, whether they be Sinatra fans or musical theater buffs or simply Angelinos in search of a couple of hours of holiday musical cheer.

I had a Christmas ball at this Sinatra Holiday Bash. You will too!

The El Portal Theatre, 5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood.

–Steven Stanley
December 15, 2012
Photos: Ed Krieger

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