From Manhattan to Milford – Pete Caldera becomes Sinatra at Milford Theater’s holiday show

Milford. He masterfully captured Ol Blue Eye’s mannerisms, from the way he snapped his fingers to his sips from the ever-present glass of “water” (wink! wink!) on stage.

| 10 Dec 2021 | 07:26

Pete Caldera and his incredibly talented band kicked off the holiday season at the Milford Theater with his huge repertory of Frank Sinatra songs, as well as holiday favorites like “Have Your Self a Merry Little Christmas,” and “Winter Wonderland.”

He mesmerized the audience with his Ol’ Blue Eyes personification. He masterfully captured Sinatra’s mannerisms – snapping his fingers, turning sideways to the band, and making large sweeping movements with his left hand. He cocked his head and his whole his body slightly backwards. He “was” Sinatra, even to the point of drinking from the ever-present glass of “water” (wink! wink!) on stage. At one point, Caldera brought out a cup and saucer and asked the audience to join him for a cuppa (tea). This is classic Sinatra shtick.

Caldera plays “Sinatra Sunday” at the exclusive Carnegie Club Lounge on West 56th Street in Manhattan. His smooth New York style and sophistication enthralled the Milford Theater audience. He captured Sinatra’s musical style as it evolved over his 50-plus-year career. Caldera sang the classics – “Young at Heart,” “I Get a Kick Out of You,” “It’s Witchcraft,” “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire,” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” – mostly written by such greats as Cole Porter, Count Basie, and George and Ira Gershwin.

Caldera also showcased “Chicago” and the great bossa nova sound of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Girl From Ipanema.”

Big band sound

The five-piece band transported the audience to the days of the Big Band Era in New York City.

Each of the band members – Tony Regusis on piano, Ken Hassler on drums, Will Woodard on bass, Gary Keller on saxophone, and Dave Stahl on trumpet, who actually played with Sinatra – received fulsome applause when each of these artists played their featured solos.

“ It was an excellent band – top notch – reminiscent of the Count Basie big sound­, especially the drummer,” said Martin Schmalenberg, who came to the concert with his new wife, Amy Bridge. “They were the cream of the crop, and as good as it gets.”

Amy was equally enthusiastic. “I think that maybe some of the people have never heard of Frank Sinatra, but the songs he sang were classics and anyone in the know knows them,” she said. “I think everyone here enjoyed it and like Caldera said, if you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’ve heard a lot of those songs.”

At the end of the concert, Caldera thanked Bill Rosado “for renovating this beautiful theater and artistic director Beth O’Neil and her husband, journalist Christian Red, for making this concert possible and bringing them from New York.”

“Bill Rosado is the real deal,” said Tom France, owner of the Golden Gifts jewelry store in Milford. “He’s paying it forward for the luck of his success. It was a fantastic night for Milford, exactly what this town needs.”

At the end of a standing ovation, one theater-goer was heard talking about the sound of the band.

“Smooth as silk,” she said. “Just smooth as silk.”

“It was an excellent band – top notch – reminiscent of the Count Basie big sound­, especially the drummer. They were the cream of the crop, and as good as it gets.” Martin Schmalenberg