SALEM, NY – Fort Salem Theater and Gardenworks Farm announce two very special performances as popular Capital Region personality, Jerry Gretzinger, explores the The Rat Pack’s Songbook in an all new production, Jerry Gretzinger in Concert: The Pack is Back — The Rat Pack in Vegas. On Saturday evening, August 12, a multi-course locally sourced Farm-to-Table dinner begins at 5:30 at Gardenworks Farm, followed by an onsite cabaret concert. The same show, without the meal, will be presented at Fort Salem Theater on Sunday, August 13, at 2 PM. The Pack Is Back chronicles the chart-topping singing careers of arguably the greatest male entertainers of the twentieth century, namely Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr., by duplicating the song selection from several of the Rat Pack’s Las Vegas shows from the early 1960’s.
In The Pack Is Back, Gretzinger tackles the musical repertoire of the entire Rat Pack, celebrating the unparalleled relationship the three men had onstage. Gretzinger will share little-known facts about the performers, including the observation that Sinatra dealt with his loneliness by producing films and concert performances that would include jobs for people he admired with whom he had little or no social relationship, including Dean Martin. For the film, Some Came Running, which Sinatra produced and in which he starred, he cast Dean in a role that was a dramatic tour de force for Martin, and followed that production with Sleep Warm, a record album in which Martin sang and Sinatra conducted. Their very warm professional relationship did not carry over into the social sphere.
Gretzinger’s first Sinatra outing, Mostly Frank, opened five years ago at Fort Salem’s cabaret in rural Washington County. It toured several venues around the area, including a stint backed by a swing band at the Linda Norris Auditorium in Albany, which resulted in an often-broadcast Sinatra special on WAMC. In 2016, Jerry’s Sinatra 101: The Man, the Myth, and the Music built on the year of publicity surrounding the centennial celebration of Frank’s birth, combining the Sinatra catalogue of hits with a smattering of basic and little-known facts about the popular entertainer. Sinatra 101 played extensively, at the Hilton Garden Inn in Clifton Park, the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library, Mac-Haydn Theatre, and in benefits for the Ulster County ASPCA and Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Clubs.
Jerry Gretzinger, a former CBS6 news anchor, came upon Sinatra quite by accident when in his early teens.
“My friends were listening to heavy metal,” confesses Gretzinger, “and I was listening to Frank.” While taking in the age-appropriate Steve Martin-Lily Tomlin film, All of Me, Gretzinger was mesmerized by Sinatra’s rendition of the title tune. “I’d discovered this great new singer, and then I discovered he’d actually been recording for quite some time.”
The progression to include Dean and Sammy was a natural one. “Each of them have a distinct style of song they sing,” says Gretzinger. “Dean is laid-back and Sammy works every tune for all it’s worth. And Frank is Frank. And every song is terrific!”
Jerry Gretzinger had performed in most of the area’s community and semi-professional theaters by 2009, when his news-buddy Benita Zahn suggested that he join her and her fellow WNYT news anchor Jessica Layton, in a cabaret outing at Fort Salem Theater. From time to time since then, the group performed on the road at venues throughout the Capital Region, including Mac-Haydn Theatre, Saratoga City Center for First Night, and Vapor at the Racino. Until Layton’s recent defection to New York City to report on CBS Channel Two, they were repeat guests for the Clifton Park-Halfmoon and Guilderland Library performance series, and have headlined at benefits for The Glens Falls Civic Center, the Wood Theatre, Our Brother’s Keeper, the Lansingburgh Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, the Watervliet Public Library, St. Mary’s School (Hoosick), and the Schenectady ARC.
Jerry Gretzinger in Concert: The Pack is Back — The Rat Pack in Vegas plays Saturday, August 12, in Farm-to-Table Dinner Cabaret at Gardenworks Farm, 1055 Route 30, Salem, NY, starting at 5:30 PM. Advance reservations are required; dinner and show each discounted for a total ticket price of $65. The show plays on the Mainstage at Fort Salem Theater on Sunday, August 13, at 2 PM, with a ticket price of $25. Tickets in advance and at the door. All purchases may be made by visiting the theater website (fortsalemtheater.com) or through the theater box office at (518) 854-9200.