San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Frank Sinatra’s Impersonator Singing

RICK Michel will do it FrankSinatra’s way at the National Theater inSan José next weekend.Michel (pronounced “Michael”), aprofessional singer who made a name forhimself in Las Vegas in a Rat Pack showimpersonating Sinatra and Dean Martin,among others, caught the attention of aCosta Rican concert producer, WilliamMuñoz, during a performance at Vegas’Caesars Palace earlier this year.“When I heard him in the show Ithought, wow, I found the right guy. I waswaiting for this opportunity for years,because musicians in Costa Rica, we havevery good ones, but nobody who soundslike Sinatra,” Muñoz said. “I’m a Sinatramusic lover,and one of my desires was todo a tribute to Sinatra in Costa Rica, butthe most difficult thing was to find a singerwho sounds like him. The music is veryeasy to perform but the singer is hard tofind.”Michel will perform with the 60-pieceCosta Rica National PhilharmonicOrchestra and his own piano player, NedMills, for two nights at the NationalTheater.“The orchestra that will perform withRick is awesome,” Muñoz said. “Sixtyguys, they will play the Sinatra originalscore that was played in Vegas. Rick sentus all the music.”MICHEL cut his teeth at impersonationswhen he was barely out of diapers.When he was a teenager, he asked hismother whom she would like him toimpersonate and they settled on FrankSinatra. He listened to “You Make Me FeelSo Young,” on record to learn how tosound like Sinatra, who died in 1998.“I listened to him over and over for a month and within a month I started tosound like him,” Michel said. “I’vealways loved his music and his style.”LATER, he applied to a RatPack show in Las Vegas produced byDavid Cassidy, who played KeithPartridge on the 1970s televisionshow “The Partridge Family.” Heunderstudied for the role of Sinatra,but a vacancy opened for DeanMartin. Cassidy said he looks likeMartin, so he filled the role. Since hehas done shows where he has impersonatednot only Sinatra and Martin,but Sammy Davis Jr., RodneyDangerfield, Neal Diamond, andBob Hope – but at the NationalTheater he will sing Sinatra’s songsonly.He studied acting in LosAngeles, California, and has earnedhis fame among clients of CaesarsPalace. Franco Pilli, corporate vice-presidentof Caesars Palace saidMichel is sought after by Sinatrafans who have found in him a chanceto re-live the musical legend.He has made appearances on the“Larry King Live” show, “America’sFunniest People,” and “EntertainmentTonight,” and has performedaround the United States at hotelsand other venues and in theBroadway musical “New York, NewYork.”It will be Michel’s first visit toCosta Rica. While talking to TheTico Times from the United States,he was looking up weather information,noticed Costa Rica is in the tailend of the rainy season and askedwhere is the nearest rain forest toSan José.WHEN Muñoz saw him performin Las Vegas, Michel said heapproached him after the show andsaid he had been looking for someonewho sings like Sinatra for manyyears.“I said, you’ve found him,”Michel said. “He asked if I’d beinterested in singing in his countryand I said, sure, what country wouldthat be?”This will also be his first concertoutside of the United States. He isfairly confident, however, thatSinatra’s music is well knownenough to bring the crowds.“What I would like to have happenis for them to acknowledge thesongs that I’m singing – for them toknow them, most of them, anyway,”he said. “I would think that Sinatra’svery well known in South America.In Mexico they love Frank. I wouldthink they would just acknowledgethe music and show up in droves,because Frank Sinatra will neverdie.”PERFORMING at the NationalTheater will be one of the highlightsof his visit, he said.“I’m looking forward to it, I’veheard a lot about the NationalTheater. It’s a treasure there, and alot of famous people have performedthere. I’m looking forward to being apart of that history.”Michel and the orchestra willperform Friday and Saturday nights,Nov. 5-6 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices arefrom ¢5,000-¢15,000 ($11-$33). Forinformation and reservations, callthe National Theater at 221-5341.

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