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Lippia's 'Simply Sinatra' revives great memories
Napa Valley Register
By Ev Parker
What better way to cap off a St. Valentine’s evening than occupying a seat at the beautiful Lincoln Theater in Yountville where the story of our lives would play out?
We had it all on Sunday evening when vocalist Steve Lippia, a fine crooner, dipped into the Frank Sinatra songbook and transported the audience back in time, ably assisted by the Napa Valley Symphony, no less.
From the moment Grammy Award winner conductor Victor Vanacore and Lippia, out of Las Vegas by way of Connecticut, took center stage, the audience was enthralled by music they had once loved a long time ago and hungered for once again.
Lippia, a Sinatra look-alike and sound alike, opened the show after the playing of our national anthem, and his first song was “The Best Is Yet To Come” a Cy Colman-Carolyn Leigh l96l song; he wasn’t kidding.
As he sang ballads like “All The Way,” a Sammy Cahn-Jimmy Van Heusen piece, then Cole Porter’s “Got you Under My Skin,” something unusual began to happen.
From the theater’s wings in the mezzanine and the alcoves in the balcony couples young and old got up from their seats and began dancing, the younger set moving and twirling to an upbeat number and the senior folks dancing the old way, slow and close to a Sinatra ballad.
I guess you do that when old memories return of a time that was, but is no more.
As the second act began Vanacore, a great artist, conductor and arranger, led the Napa Valley Symphony in a marvelous piece he’d created. It was the blending of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” with an old favorite, a samba called “Brazil” — a surprising mix that worked like a charm.
Re-enter Lippia, and the music of Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart filled the theater as he sang “The Lady Is a Tramp.”
From there the theater was filled with great Sinatra favorites like “Luck Be A Lady Tonight” from “Guys and Dolls” and “Fly Me To The Moon” by Bart Howard. Too soon the show was down to the last great Sinatra piece, his “My Way.” This was Frank Sinatra’s anthem, written by Paul Anka and Giles Thibault in l967, and it told the story of the life of a legend.
My Way” was the last song listed on the playbill, but immediately following the number, the Napa Valley Symphony broke into “New York, New York,” and we few New Yorkers in the audience were delighted and happily surprised by our great California neighbors who stood up and cheered as Lippia led us in singing that very special song.
After the show, this critic talked to Lippia and Napa Valley Symphony and Lincoln Theater Director Richard Aldag, out of Queens, New York (my hometown), and we found we had one other thing in common in addition to our love of Sinatra songs —here, 3,000 miles away from Yankee Stadium, all three of us were New York Yankee fans.