Unique Sinatra tribute lets you choose the hits at Horsham’s Capitol

Gary Williams
Gary Williams

Originally it was going to be Sinatra Bingo. It has ended up as Sinatra Jukebox. Either way, it features some of the greatest songs ever written.

Gary Williams and Harry the Piano perform whatever the audience requests from 100 of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ best-loved hits when they perform at Horsham’s Capitol on Sunday, July 10.

“We were thinking about bingo originally, and a caller would call out numbers that would refer to songs on a list,” says Gary. “We thought it would be very Edinburgh, but we were obviously having to work to a budget, and a bingo machine would have been expensive, so instead we developed the idea of having 100 Sinatra songs. And I have to say, it is a really great show. People love it. What is brilliant about the show is that every one of the songs is chosen by the audience.

“The way we do it depends on the different venues and the different environments, but usually in a theatre there is a table with a list of songs, and people are encouraged to pick their favourites, maybe because they danced to it at their wedding or for whatever reason, and we get them to say what makes it special. And then, maybe ten minutes before the show, a member of staff gives the list to me as a pile of requests and I transform the songs into a running order. You look at what the most popular ones are going to be. But I also like to do the other songs that are not often requested. You know that people will always request ‘My Way’ or ‘New York, New York’ or ‘Fly Me to The Moon’, the big hits, but there are lots of songs on that list that are not so well known, and when people choose them, it makes the show very interesting.

“But what also makes the show is that it is very interactive. It can really quickly create an intimate cabaret atmosphere in even a big venue, and we also do few games. People think I get the requests and then ignore them and do what I was going to do, so I ask people to tell me their wedding anniversary, which might be 23rd of the tenth month of 53, so I will do song numbers 23 and ten and 53 as a medley. And what is great is that Harry is such a great improviser. I will be able to throw at him these random numbers. Or he will just start playing, and I will recognise it. Or I will know when we do a medley, that he likes to take it back at the end to the first one. We have worked with each other for so long that we really understand what the other one is doing it. Sometimes I might not guess what he is doing or he might guess wrong with me, but you wouldn’t really know because we just make it work. It’s just great fun for everybody when that happens.”

One thing is clear, though: Gary isn’t remotely interested in simply impersonating Sinatra: “The only time I impersonated Frank was when I had to in the Rat Pack show, and I just felt slightly embarrassed. I don’t think I sing particularly like him either, and what is interesting is that when you tell the audience you are not going to be doing an impersonation, you can really feel them relax. They are not sitting there thinking ‘Who on earth does he think he is?’ In fact, they are much more likely to come up to you afterwards and say ‘Do you know, you really sound like him!’”

Tickets are £21. Visit www.thecapitolhorsham.com or call 01403 750220.

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