Chicago Theatre Review
AN OLD SOUL AT HEART
SETH MACFARLANE- Ravinia
As I sat in my Ravinia Pavilion seat on an unusually comfortable August evening awaiting the entrance of Mr. Seth MacFarlane, I, along with most of the audience, anticipated hearing the diatribes of rude, crude and lewd Peter, the stoic, dry wit of Brian and the angry, precocious musings of Stewie- the core of the Griffin family of Quahog, Rhode Island.
What I got instead was a modern day resurrection of Frank Sinatra, crooning to arrangements from the likes of Nelson Riddle and Billy May among others. Not at all expected- but totally awesome nonetheless. There are connections between MacFarlane and Sinatra, such as their mutual passion for performing with an orchestra behind them. Not to mention the fact that Macfarlane has become good friends with Frank Sinatra Jr., who guest starred and sung with Brian on a Family Guy episode. Also, Seth’s bass player did the opening baseline in Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking”.
One thing that can be said for Seth Macfarlane- he’s got range. From an old soul singing somewhat obscure charts from yesteryear to creator, animator, writer and voice man for Family Guy to producing “Cosmos”- one of the finest astronomy programs of all time, he can do it all. This guy must have a sore neck from wearing so many hats.
But more about the concert… Backed up by the virtually flawless Ravinia Festival Orchestra (including his own conductor, bass player and pianist) with excellent lighting work and near perfect acoustics, MacFarlane took the crowd into a musical time machine pre 1960’s. Some of the charts were unfamiliar to me but were still thoroughly enjoyable.
He sang about 15 songs, interjecting his brand of irreverant humor between songs. His smooth, velvety baritone vocal chords showed some real polish and shine, successfully capturing the essence of each piece. From “Old Man River” to “Via Veneto” to “I’ll Only Miss Her When I Think of Her”, it’s apparent that he was raised on this type of music. His sincere love of orchestral music reveals itself in each and every phrase of every song. All in all, not bad for the guy that invented the phrase “Giggity Giggity Goo”.
Reviewed by Scott Kirshenbaum