Best Bets: Milton man keeps music and legacy of Sinatra alive

Tony Sands, a part-time resident of Milton, will recreate the sights and sounds of Frank Sinatra in a show called “Rat Pack Together Again!” Saturday at the Milton Theatre. (Submitted photo)

Tony Sands doesn’t remember a time when Frank Sinatra wasn’t a part of his life.

“Even as a small kid, Sinatra music was always playing in the house. I got my love of singing from him,” he said.

As Mr. Sands got older, he started singing in small bars and cafes and then eventually larger venues and with bigger bands until he landed a three-year gig playing the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey starting in 2006.

And through it all, he was singing songs by and sounding remarkably like The Chairman of the Board.

Moving from Philadelphia to Milton in 2011, Mr. Sands continued his mission of keeping Mr. Sinatra’s music alive but performing all over the region and in Florida in the winters.

He performs two area shows this weekend. Tonight, he’ll be at Dover’s Modern Maturity Center where he tells the life story of the legendary singer through song and film clips in a show called “It Was a Very Good Year.” Saturday, he plays the Milton Theatre in a tribute to the Rat Pack where he portrays Mr. Sinatra with other performers, who stand in for Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.

Tickets for tonight’s show in Dover are no longer available but tickets do remain for Saturday night’s Milton performance, although VIP passes are sold out.

Growing up in South Philadelphia, “on 19th and Hicks,” he notes, Mr. Sands intently would listen to all things Sinatra.

“When I was 10 or 11, I just got into him. I would listen to his phrasing, which was great. He was the best,” said Mr. Sands Tuesday afternoon, which happened to be the 21st anniversary of Mr. Sinatra’s death at the age of 82.

“My thing with singers is that you have to sell the song. You have to put it across to the audience. You have to tell them the story and feel that they understand what you are singing about. And he did that. He got that song across to you where you understood and felt every word of it.”

In his shows, Mr. Sands tries to convey that feeling of a Sinatra concert by chiefly sounding like the singer. He says that comes pretty easy to him.

“I’m blessed like that. It’s really my natural tone and key and the way the words flow comes out sounding like Sinatra,” said the 65-year-old Mr. Sands.

“Now I do follow his leads and sing the songs they way he did but it all feels very comfortable for me.”

And for his audience, watching and listening to him sing is a comfortable feeling as well.

“I think it brings back a lot of memories for the older crowd. But we do get younger people coming to the shows too. It gives them a chance to learn more about Sinatra and to hear the songs.”

Mr. Sands said he is working with a group of young musicians in New Jersey to put together a band that would play Frank Sinatra music exclusively and hopes to perform a show soon.

“That’s a big high for me. To know that these young people are now into this kind of music, it’s great,” he said.

Saturday night’s show in Milton with Robert Cabella as Dean Martin and Jeff Foote as Sammy Davis Jr. is only blocks away from where he has called home most of the year for the last eight years.

“It was a great move. I sold the house in Philly and moved down here and I love it. It’s not too far from Philly, Virginia, Maryland and D.C. where we still do shows. It’s pretty. It’s located in a good place and it’s 10 minutes from the beach where I can spend time fishing,” he said.

Saturday’s “Rat Pack Together Again!” show contains the songs made famous by the trio and includes the playful banter for which they were known.

“It’s a fun show to do. It’s always a great time. We just did the show last weekend at the Ocean City (Maryland) Convention Center and got a standing ovation,” Mr. Sands said.

Mr. Cabella has been in the show for some time while Mr. Foote is a relative newcomer.

“He’s fit in well. He’s a great tap dancer. He teaches tap and when he gets tapping, the place goes crazy.”

Mr. Sands has performed at the Milton Theatre frequently, with his solo shows, the Rat Pack show and with Barbra Streisand impersonator Carla Del Villagio.

“It’s a wonderful theater. It’s been around for a long time,” Mr. Sands said.

“(Executive director) Fred (Munzert) runs it right and we have fun there. The tickets are priced right and people come out. He’s done a great job for the community.”

Tickets for Saturday night’s show are $20 to $25. They can be purchased at www.MiltonTheatre.com, via phone by calling 302-684-3038 or at the box office at 110 Union St.

Riderfest 2

As we told you last week, more than half a dozen local musical acts will take the stage at the second annual RiderFest Charity Music Festival Saturday at Caesar Rodney High School.

RiderFest 2 is organized by CRHS senior Sam Collins and CRHS alumnus David Haynes, and all proceeds raised will benefit the Food Bank of Delaware. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door or online at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4224545 .

The event will begin at 3 p.m. and will feature local professional musicians, each performing 45-minute sets.

Featured acts include Judy Sings the Blues, Sol Knopf, Kevin Hartigan, Frank Darwicki of Darkin, Best Kept Soul, Evan Fox and AWÜ.

Food trucks, including local favorites Tre Sorelle Dolce, Delicious Craving, Southern Mama’s Funnel Cakes and Mojos to Go, will be on site all day.

Classics and More

The Ballet Theatre of Dover will hold its annual Classics & More performances on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the In–Studio Theatre, at Tudor Park, off South Little Creek Road.

There will be a wide range of styles from classical ballet to contemporary.

The classical challenges of “Paquita” with music by the ballet composer Ludwig Minkus, is full of Spanish–themed melodies. The technical difficulties of the piece are heightened by Spanish motifs and flair. This is a piece performed annually at the Vaganova School in St. Petersburg, Russia, as a showcase for its graduating students. This school counts as its alumni the likes of Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Makarova, Nijinsky and George Balanchine.

“Kosmos” is the Greek word for “order of the universe”, as Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher had put forth. The ballet is based on the existence of the elements — air, water, earth and fire.

The Ballet Theatre of Dover will hold its annual Classics & More performances on Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at the In–Studio Theatre, at Tudor Park, off South Little Creek Road in Dover.

Leading the cast for “Paquita” are 16-year-old Phoenix Riehl and 17-year-old Joanna Loux. Both will be partnered by guest male dancer Andrew Matte from The First State Ballet Theatre, Delaware’s professional company based in Wilmington.

Other dancers featured in the ballet are Naya Gonzalez, Ryan Smallwood, Morgan Dudai, Gracie Jordan, Josephine Sexton, Hannah Nagyiski and Emmie Huber.

Ballet Theatre of Dover is the performing company of the Dance Conservatory.

Tickets for the show are $10 for adults and $6 for seniors and students. They are available at the door an hour before the show, at the Dance Conservatory at by calling 302-734-9717.

For more information, visit www.dancebtd.com and Facebook.com/dancebtd.

Bombay Hook fundraiser

A reception and fundraiser benefiting the Friends of Bombay Hook and the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association will be held Sunday, May 19 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Painted Stave Distilling, 106 W. Commerce St., Smyrna.

Inside, join the Friends of Bombay Hook for the 2019 photo contest reception. There will also be a silent auction and 50/50 raffle.

Outside will be a live auction of decorated bird houses and feeders sponsored by the Smyrna Downtown Renaissance Association.

For more information, contact the Friends of Bombay Hook at fobh@comcast.net, through the website at www.friendsofbombayhook.org, or call 302-653-8322 and leave a detailed message.

Outstanding Teen

The 2019 Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen Competition will be held on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Wells Theatre inside Slaybaugh Hall at Wesley College in Dover.

The Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen Competition is the little sister program to the Miss Delaware Scholarship Competition. The winner will represent Delaware at the 2020 Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Competition in July in Orlando, Florida.

The theme of the pageant this year is “Counting Stars” and features pop music from Little Mix, Leona Lewis, Panic at the Disco and Songs from “The Greatest Showman.”

The pageant will feature Sky Knox, Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen 2018, and the seven 2019 Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen contestants. Ms. Knox will also crown her successor.

Special guests include Joanna Wicks, Miss Delaware 2018; Kayla Martell, Miss Delaware 2010 and pageant emcee; Danielle Marshall, Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen 2009; and Grace Otley, Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen 2014.

The seven contestants, hailing from throughout the state, are between the ages of 13 and 17 and will compete for scholarships in the areas of private interview, talent presentation, evening gown and on-stage question and physical fitness.

Tickets are $40 and $20 and may be purchased in advance through MissDEOrg.Social/MDEOTeen. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.

Doors will open at 1:30 p.m. People’s Choice voting is also live, and can be found at MissDEOrg.Social/Vote-Teen. Proceeds benefit the scholarships made available annually to young women of Delaware.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the family film “A Dog’s Journey,” the action-adventure sequel “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum” and the romantic drama “The Sun is Also a Star.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the animated “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”: Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in “The Upside”; and Rebel Wilson in “Isn’t It Romantic.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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