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They did it their way for Cerritos center

January 19, 2003|Ann Conway | Times Staff Writer

His eyes misting with tears, Frank Sinatra Jr. did it his dad's way at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts. Looking more than ever like the Chairman of the Board -- especially in profile -- Sinatra crooned crowd-pleasers such as "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Night and Day" in the throaty, haunting style that made his father famous.

A decade ago, the singer conducted the backup orchestra for the senior Sinatra when he headlined at the center's opening-night gala. "It was 10 years ago this evening that the center opened with the master of them all," Sinatra said. "The [center] committee wanted me to come back tonight, which I was kind of touched by," he added, choking up.

Sharing the bill on Monday with an animated Tony Bennett -- who warned city fathers never to turn the "magnificent theater into an insurance company" -- Sinatra closed his hour-plus act with a favorite quote. "My dad used to say, 'May you live until you're 102 and may the last voice you hear be mine.' With everything he left us, ladies and gentlemen, the last voice you hear could be his." Then he asked the audience to guess what that voice may be saying. He sang the one-line answer: "I did it my way."

After the concert, about 200 center supporters gathered with center staff and city officials for the gala dessert reception.

"Ten years ago, folks were wondering whether spending a lot of money on a facility like this made sense for a little town like Cerritos," said Craig Springer, center executive director. "But when you look at all these happy people tonight and all of the great shows we've had, it pretty much says they got it right."

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