Come 'Fly' With Brian De Lorenzo (and Frank Sinatra)

by Robert Nesti

EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor

Thursday November 5, 2015

Actor/singer Brian De Lorenzo returns to the cabaret scene with a tribute show to Frank Sinatra that comes to Club Caf this week prior to engagements in New York & Mexico. EDGE caught up with De Lorenzo about his show, "Come Fly With Me."

In the past 25 years Brian De Lorenzo has carved a career as a Boston-based actor and singer. Either on stage in musicals as varied as Andrew Lippa's "The Wild Party," "Little Mary Sunshine," "Forever Plaid" and "Next to Normal" or on cabaret stages in Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Chicago, De Lorenzo has repeatedly shown his vocal and acting prowess.

He has also shown keen intelligence in his choice of material, be it on his debut CD "Found Treasures," a collection of lesser-known Broadway songs, or in the programs he draws from the Great American Songbook. He also pays his respects to the great singers that have come before him, as in his Nat King Cole tribute show and, coming up this week in Boston before traveling to New York and Mexico, a new show that celebrates Frank Sinatra, specifically Sinatra in the mid-1950s when he re-invented himself and became the hip leader of "The Rat Pack." It was a great comeback for a singer whose career had hit bottom in the first years of that decade.

The show, "Come Fly With Me," takes its title from Sinatra's 1958 best-selling LP that featured the singer on a musical trip around the world with songs arranged and conducted by the great Billy May. De Lorenzo premieres the show this Thursday (October 29) at Boston's Club Caf, before moving on to New York City next month and the Mexican resort Puerto Vallarta in December.

Accompanied by the Scott Nicholas Trio, Brian's sly mix of swing and romance selections take audiences through a musical tour of Rome, Paris and Bombay with fresh arrangements of Sinatra classics interwoven with stories about the singer as well as some from De Lorenzo's career.

EDGE spoke to De Lorenzo about the show inspired (in part) by the 100th anniversary year of Sinatra's birth.

Why Sinatra?

EDGE: Perhaps this is asking the obvious, but what is it about Sinatra that makes him a great singer?

Brian De Lorenzo: More than a great singer, I think of him as a great entertainer. He had an ease about his performing. People were drawn to that ease, that 'coolness.' That was especially apparent in his live performing with 'The Rat Pack.' A lot of singers from the 50s and 60s tried to imitate him, but no one really matched him. He had a very long career and, although his career waned a couple of times, especially in the mid-to-late 60s, people have always come back to him and those wonderful songs. He had a great influence on popular music in the 20th century, and it's kept on going into the 21st. I also have respect for him because he had praise for other singers -- like Mabel Mercer and Tony Bennett.

EDGE: How did you come to this material, being primarily a musical theatre performer?

Brian De Lorenzo: Over the years I've participated in many concerts, revues, and benefits for groups like American Classics, New England Light Opera, and Upstage Lung Cancer. Many of those events were in tribute to singers and songwriters of the 'Great American Songbook' -- people like the Gershwins, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Nat King Cole, and Rosemary Clooney. For these events, I learned material I hadn't performed before and was able to add that to my solo repertoire. I also wanted to stretch my stylistic choices, in addition to choice of material, so I began putting more 'swing' into my shows, and working with a jazz trio or quartet.

A great innovator

EDGE: Is there a period in his career when you think he was at his best?

Brian De Lorenzo: Vocally, I think he was probably at his best in the 1940s, though the sound quality from recordings from that period isn't very good. However, overall, I think he was at his best in the 1950s, when he brought more of his life experience into his interpretations of the material.

EDGE: He is appreciated as a singer and personality, but do you think he was a great innovator, especially with his Capitol collaborations with Nelson Riddle and Billy May?

Brian De Lorenzo: Tommy Dorsey was probably in charge when Frank sang with the orchestra in the late 30s/early 40s, but I imagine that when Frank became a big hit as a solo artist, he became the decision-maker on what kind of material he would be willing to do. So I'm sure a lot of the ideas that were used in the making of the Nelson Riddle and Billy May recordings came from Frank. So yes, I do think he was a great innovator.

By the way, I read that Frank said that his favorite album of his own recordings was one he did with Billy May -- 'Only the Lonely.' I do a number from that album which most people probably don't associate with either me OR Frank Sinatra: 'Blues in the Night.' Of course, I've changed it up a little by modifying the time signature in a few places and by doing a different ending, which I heard the lyricist of the song (and co-founder of Capitol Records) Johnny Mercer do on a recording I have. Mercer was such a great lyricist and we do five songs in the show with his lyrics.

EDGE: His album 'Come Fly with Me' offered a musical tour of the world. Are you doing the same thing with your show?

Brian De Lorenzo: I do have a section in the show that is a little tour of the world, though I sing only one of the other songs from that album -- 'I Love Paris,' which was a bonus track on the CD re-issue. My husband [John Amodeo] and I love to travel, and the songs about travel just sort of fell into place when I was putting the show together.

Honoring Sinatra's birth

EDGE: How did you come up with the idea for the show?

Brian De Lorenzo: About a year and a half ago, I was asked to come up with a list of songs for an Upstage Lung Cancer benefit saluting Dean Martin and the Rat Pack. As I was looking at song titles, I remembered that a couple of years prior, I had had the idea of doing a show saluting some of the best known Italian-American singers, since I'm also Italian-American. So preparing for the USLC benefit was the catalyst to doing a salute to Tony Bennett and Sinatra (Sinatra, Tony, & Me) which I did at Scullers in Boston and the Metropolitan Room in New York last year. In January of this year, I decided to do an internet search of famous entertainers and songwriters that might be having an important anniversary in 2015. When I saw that the 100th Anniversary of Sinatra's birth would be on December 12, I knew what to do -- I would replace Tony Bennett songs with Sinatra songs and I'd have a the show. I wanted to give the show a name that people would associate with Sinatra, and since the song would be in the show, I chose 'Come Fly with Me.'

EDGE: Do you have a favorite Sinatra album?

Brian De Lorenzo: Ironically, we didn't have any Sinatra albums in the house when I was growing up. My parents weren't really fans. So I only heard Sinatra on the radio and TV. Even as an adult, my husband and I have only two Sinatra albums in the house -- 'Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey's Greatest Hits' and 'The Sinatra Christmas Album,' though we sometimes listen to Ron Della Chiesa's 'Strictly Sinatra' radio program on WPLM and the Sinatra channel on XM Radio. When I was younger, I also enjoyed seeing him in films like 'High Society' and 'Can-Can.' He had charisma that was hard to ignore.

When I was a child, I think I was subconsciously learning selections from the Great American Songbook, when my mother played her one Nat King Cole album and multiple John Gary albums (most of which I now own on CD). I was also re-introduced to that material when I began collecting Barbra Streisand's early recordings after college. Then it probably wasn't until after the turn of the millennium when I began incorporating some of those great songs into my own repertoire.

A delicate balance

EDGE: Is it difficult for you to balance your personal life with your career?

Brian De Lorenzo: Right now, I'm working on two different benefit shows (one for Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, the other for Upstage Lung Cancer at the Lyric Stage on 11/10) in addition to the five performances in three cities of 'Come Fly with Me' (Boston, New York, and Puerto Vallarta). On 11/8, I'll also be participating in the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Boston Association of Cabaret Artists (BACA), of which I am a co-founder and past president, on my way home from my second performance of 'Come Fly with Me' at Don't Tell Mama in NYC. Plus, I have a day-job at a social services non-profit called Boston Senior Home Care. We supply management services to elders and the disabled so they can remain in their own homes. That's a very long way of saying yes, at least at the moment, it is kind of difficult - but manageable. Luckily, I have my husband giving me all kinds of support, including doing lots of legwork to get the word out about 'Come Fly with Me.' I don't think I could do this without him. By the way, John and I will celebrate 25 years together in January.

EDGE: Are you planning on making a recording of this show?

Brian De Lorenzo: There are no definite plans right now, though after our rehearsal the other night I thought, 'Wow, this is great! I think we need to go into a recording studio.' So that could happen in the first part of 2016.

EDGE: You are doing the show in Boston next week, New York in November and Puerto Vallarta in December. Are you planning on bringing it to other locations?

Brian De Lorenzo: We don't have any set plans yet, but we'd really like to bring the show to more venues and cities. It's really great music and I know people love it, so we'd like to share it with as many people as possible.

EDGE: What's up for you in 2016 - any upcoming acting gigs?

Brian De Lorenzo: I'm concentrating less on acting now, though when I see a posting for an audition for a show I'd really like to do, I'll go to the audition. But I'm really enjoying doing cabaret work and concerts and hope to do more. While I really enjoy the collaborative process of theatre, in cabaret I have so many more choices of material to sing, and I can give audiences a different perspective on songs they know - or maybe thought they knew. And it's really rewarding to see and hear when I've been able to 'move' people in the audience. That's when I know that we're making a connection with each other and with the material. And that's really what this is all about.

Brian De Lorenzo performs "Come Fly With Me" on On Saturday, November 7 at 7pm; Don't Tell Mama, 343 W 46th Street, New York, NY 10036, between 8th & 9th Avenues; for Reservations, call: 212-757-0788 or visit: For more about Brian De Lorenzo visit his website.

Watch Brian De Lorenzo sing "The Best Is Yet To Come":

Watch Brian De Lorenzo sing "My Foolish Heart":

Watch Brian De Lorenzo sing "Luck Be A Lady":

Robert Nesti can be reached at [email protected].