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What Sinatra meant to a single fan

Cary Hoffman revisits the man in a show that is part memoir, part concert re-creation.

March 31, 2007|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

Cary Hoffman is a man with an obsession named Frank Sinatra. But his fascination with Ol' Blue Eyes is vastly different from that of the millions of bobby-soxers and groupies who have made music world icons the objects of their devotion.

Hoffman's show, "My Sinatra: The Songs and the Stories," at Catalina Bar & Grill on Thursday night, was a tribute, a musical simulation and an intriguing tale of the effect a public figure can have on a fan's private life. His utterly natural, unforced re-creation of the Sinatra sound and style could easily have provided a career as a convincing impressionist. But Hoffman, who also is a personal manager and owner of a New York comedy club, has a more far-reaching goal in mind.

Backed by a seven-piece band, he kicked off the evening with a few Sinatra classics: "Fly Me to the Moon," "The Lady Is a Tramp," "Night and Day." Between each number, he offered colorful anecdotes about Sinatra's relationship with arranger Nelson Riddle, his physical collapse in 1950, his extraordinary comeback, his various musical transformations, etc.

Fascinating as the combination of Sinatra-like singing with bits and pieces of intriguing memorabilia was, the connection it all had on Hoffman's own life made the performance mesmerizing. Growing up in New York with his mother and four musician uncles (some of whom played on Sinatra recordings), and dealing with the loss of his father (who had died in a car crash a decade earlier), he immersed himself in the music.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 03, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Frank Sinatra title: A review in Saturday's Calendar section of singer Cary Hoffman's show featuring the music of Frank Sinatra referred to one song as "One for the Road." The song's title is "One for My Baby."

"I was," he said whimsically, "in my room for about 23 years listening to Sinatra records. Then one day my mother grabbed me and said, 'Listen to me! You're not Sinatra.' " His mother was right, of course, but as Hoffman now realizes, it was easy for a young kid to project fantasies of a wished-for paternal image on the self-confident, magisterial qualities of Sinatra -- as displayed on recordings and in the media.

By the time he concluded -- after atmospheric renderings of "One for the Road," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "Angel Eyes" and the inevitable "My Way" -- Hoffman had made a convincing case for the fact that obsession isn't necessarily bad, not when it results in an entertaining and touching evening such as this.


Cary Hoffman

Where: Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

When: 8:30 and 10:30 tonight

Price: $30 (8:30 p.m.), $25 (10:30 p.m.)

Contact: (323) 466-2210

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