City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

One for my Baby, Space on the Mile, Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 19 August 2015

Matt Concannon as Frank Sinatra in "One for my Baby".
Show details
Now You Know Theatre Company
Running time: 
Anthony Orme (writer, director), Matthew Green and Laura Ellis (producers)
Matt Concannon (Frank), Holly Sumpton (Ava), Ryan Heenan (Reporter, Jack, Artie, Jimmy), Anthony Orme (Joe); Colin Molloy (Pianist), Monika Valkunaite (Saxophonist)

It was at a party in Palm Springs when Frank Sinatra became captivated by Ava Gardner, the glamorous, most irresistible woman in Hollywood. Likewise, she was seduced by his handsome, boyish face, bright blue eyes and incredible grin. Frank had found his Diva, she had met the love of her life and they married on November 7, 1951, ten days after his divorce from Nancy Barbato.

“One for My Baby” is an intimate, hard hitting, heartbreaking portrait of Frank and Ava’s romance and tempestuous marriage, the title taken from one of his hit songs,

“It's quarter to three, there's no one in the place except you and me/So, set 'em up, Joe, I got a little story you oughta know.”

The setting is the Paradise Lounge cocktail bar lined with bottles of Plymouth Gin and Jack Daniels. A pianist is playing a mellow jazzy number, as Joe, the bar tender begins the story, like the start of a Raymond Chandler Private detective story. “It was late on a Friday night, 1953, Palm Springs, Frank comes in, “She left me, Joe …”

In a felt Fedora hat perched jauntily on his head, and grey pinstripe suit, Frank sits on a bar stool, knocks back a double Bourbon, and picks up the narrative, drowning his sorrows with Joe as a sympathetic ear. Matt Concannon is perfectly cast as Sinatra, the face, suave, Italianate charm and velvety smooth voice. He confesses that he loves Ava but cannot live his life like this.

Re-enacting the scene, Ava, in sleek Audrey Hepburn-style shirt and white Capri jeans, packs her suitcase to leave. “Our fires don’t burn at the same rate”, she says, describing the clash of their personalities, both demanding and highly strung stars of stage and screen.

The neatly constructed drama moves in movie-style flash back to the time they first met, with Ava in a gorgeous peach silk evening gown and fur stole. Beautiful and catwalk model slim, Holly Sumpton is simply stunning as the sultry Ms Gardner, her cool manner perfectly played, the pace and phrasing of each line spoken like poetry.

Short episodes of events in their relationship illustrate the highs and lows, laughter and pain - from their first date, behaving like wayward teenagers, to heated arguments. It’s the typical celebrity showbiz marriage, where jealousy of close friendships and the hint of an affair is par for the course.

The talented Ryan Heenan plays several roles, deftly changing hats and jackets but it’s confusing at times when the audience do not know which character, (Jack, Artie, Jimmy?) he is playing.

The live jazz band, keyboards and saxophone, adds brilliantly to the authentic mood and period (But extremely odd they are used as a jukebox!). A couple of fabulous songs are performed by Holly and Ryan (an Olly Murs lookalike!) too, but more music and Sinatra classics, (e.g. “One for my Baby” and “I Could have Told You” ) would really make this show Swing.

At just 45 minutes, this debut play by Anthony Orme is a tasty appetiser rather than a substantial main course and could certainly be developed into a full scale musical drama.

The Now You Know Theatre company bring the bittersweet romance between Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner to life with lyrical flow, jaunty jazz and mature professional polish - the production gleams with authentic 1950s vintage style and sophistication.

Show times
7 - 29 August, 2015 @ 7.40pm (not 9, 16, 23).
Ticket prices: £7.00 (£5.00)(£20.00 F)