Andy DiMino has been called “the quintessential crooner.”
After a varied career that took him to Hollywood clubs and Colorado ski lodges, the Southern California native moved to Las Vegas, where he discovered his inner Dean Martin.
For the last 14 years, he has been one-third of A Toast to the Rat Pack, a tribute act that comes to the Chandler Center for the Arts Sunday, May 21. DiMino stars as Martin, while Sebastian Anzaldo and Lambus Dean perform as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., respectively.
“It’s a really fun show,” says DiMino, via telephone from his Las Vegas home.
“In theaters, we break it up into two sets. During the first set, we focus on the individual performers. Dean Martin usually opens the show with three songs, then he turns it over to Sammy for three songs and Frank for three songs. That way, each performer gets to do the solo numbers from the catalog.”
Before the intermission, the trio comes together for a handful of songs. They return to the stage as The Rat Pack, with the three tuxedoed performers interacting and closing with “big finish numbers.” The six-piece band features a three-piece horn section that hearkens back to the big band era.
DiMino grew up watching The Dean Martin Show from 1965 to 1974, but he was a self-professed “child of the 1960s,” during which time he was raised on The Beatles.
After a stint with bands, he stepped back to raise his son. In 1990, DiMino relocated to Las Vegas and started working odd jobs ranging from a strolling minstrel/guitarist at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino, to singing the Italian-American songs of Martin. Then, he saw a Rat Pack tribute show at the now-shuttered Desert Inn in Paradise, Nevada.
“A lightbulb went off in my head,” DiMino says. “I thought, ‘I could do this. I like this music. I like the comedy. I like the era. I’m already Italian.’ The pros outweighed the cons and it made sense.
“I studied all the music. I read everything I could. I picked up the mannerisms by watching DVDs of his TV show. I loved the attitude and the fun they were having.”
Singing and performing weren’t the hard parts. Instead, DiMino admits, he was a little leery about Martin’s comedic side.
“I had never done comedy before,” DiMino says. “Dean Martin was a natural comedian. I had done some musical theater. These were such great characters, though. Through our show, we hope to remind the audience how much they loved the characters and music of that time, and how it made them feel. If we can do that, that’s success for us. We’ve done our jobs.”
A Toast to the Rat Pack, Chandler Center for the Arts, 250 N. Arizona Avenue, Chandler, 480.782.2680, chandlercenter.org, https://dhsproductions.com/rat-pack, 3 p.m. Sunday, May 21, $29-$44.