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John Noble’s Frank Sinatra Tribute shows timelessness of classic performer

Rex Rutkoski
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Submitted
John Noble as Frank Sinatra
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John Noble and Murphy Music Center Big Band

Ask Hempfield’s John Noble why the music of Frank Sinatra remains relevant today, and he smiles.

“Let me count the ways. First, because it’s ‘music,’ Real music, not electronically altered, digitally enhanced or disguised with pyrotechnics,” says the Westmoreland County lawyer and entertainer.

“It’s music that, through Sinatra’s indelible phrasing, tells stories of love and loss, hope and heartbreak — our stories, told by Frank, with lyrics that reach so very deep within our human emotions, from elation to despair.”

That’s the kind of music of which we never tire, Noble says.

Sinatra’s lasting gift, he believes, was that each listener felt that he was singing only to them.

Noble’s goal is to re-create that feeling as he prepares to sing Sinatra, backed by the 17-piece Murphy Music Center Big Band, on Dec. 2 for an audience at Penn State, New Kensington.

The evening benefits New Kensington Civic Theatre. Some of its members are part of the vocal and narration cast.

“Watching John is like watching Frank Sinatra reincarnated,” says Pamela Farneth of New Kensington, president of the Civic Theatre. “He has him right down to the gestures and the pinky ring. He is so passionate about keeping the arts alive, the music alive and the theater alive.”

She considers it a privilege any time she is able to perform with him.

“I never got to see a live performance of ‘Old Blue Eyes’ in my lifetime, and this gives me the opportunity to have a bit of that Frank magic come to life right before my eyes,” Farneth says.

Noble says he loves singing with the Murphy Music Center Big Band.

“First, they’re the true talent of the show, each as accomplished musicians. I’m honored that they have me sing with them,” he says. “Many are teachers and music educators dedicated to this era and style of music. They are also first to just have fun during any performance. We joke around a lot, in homage to the Vegas ‘Rat Pack’ days of Sinatra.”

The show, conceived by Noble, was first performed on Dec. 12, 2015, at the Lamp Theatre, Irwin, in celebration of what would have been Sinatra’s 100th birthday.

“John scripted the show, and we have been doing it ever since,” says Jim Caporali of Parks Township, owner of Murphy’s Music Center, Allegheny Township. “It is a great show to play and a fun and high-energy show to watch.”

So many people want to keep singing Sinatra’s music, says Farneth, because the songs are timeless “and they are the heart and soul of what we as performers feel. His music makes us remember the power of what we can do with our voices and how we express ourselves. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that legend?”

Lower Burrell’s Maria DelVecchio says every time she hears “New York, New York” “I want to get on a plane.”

“I actually saw Frank at the Civic Arena in the ’70s,” she adds. “What an experience. He was so fabulous, and the crowd was so excited to hear him sing. It was such a special event to watch Sinatra in person. John Noble portrays Sinatra perfectly.”

Rex Rutkoski is a Tribune Review contributing writer.

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