‘Come Fly Away’ Brings Swank, Sass and Sinatra to Chicago’s Bank of America Theatre

Things are just getting heated up at the Bank of America Theatre where Come Fly Away is playing through January 22.

Sinatra. We know that voice. It’s sexy, confident and masculine. After hours bars, cigars and tumblers of scotch. Romance, heartbreak and overcoming obstacles with charm and wry self-awareness. At least, that’s what I think of when I think of ol’ blue eyes.

World-renowned choreographer Twyla Tharp has created and choreographed this 80-minute “dansicle” inspired by this legendary crooner’s swanky style. Of course, his music is the heart and soul of this show, and they’ve managed to extract his vocals from various recordings to have them accompanied by a swinging onstage band, heavy on brass and sax. That alone is a remarkable achievement.

Then there’s the dancing. Tharp is known for her athletic, innovative and somewhat irreverent approach to dance — a style that pairs well with Sinatra’s tunes. She’s set this revue in a late-night swing club, where various couples literally throw themselves at each other for a chance to dance. It’s astonishing to watch the fearlessness of their moves — particularly the ladies. And then a statuesque woman in red enters the scene (Meredith Miles), whose moves are intentional, elegant and confident. The men throw themselves at her for a change. But she has her eyes on Sid (John Selya), a swarthy, deeply masculine middle-aged man who seems out of place in a sea of 2% body fat dancerbois. He still has the moves, but he sweats a bit more. He truly works to get the lady.

Things take an unexpected turn when the dancers begin stripping to their skivvies as the night approaches morning and the need to connect with someone — anyone — overcomes. Tharp’s exquisite pair dancing takes center stage. “And now, the end is near, and so we face, the final curtain …”

Hey, it’s an energetic and entertaining 80 minutes, full of sex and style — perhaps more of the former than the latter. I had a great time. The only major misstep for me was an encore featuring Sinatra’s “New York, New York.” Guess what? It’s Chicago. And we have our own anthem, also sung by the man.

“Come Fly Away” plays through Jan. 22 at the Bank of America Theatre. More info here >

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