Atlanta Art Reviews by Susan K Asher
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‘Sammy & Me’ at the Hertz Theatre

2010 October 11


In a production  called “Sammy & Me,” it would be normal to think you’d see the likeness of Sammy Davis Jr. But in the Alliance Theatre’s production, co-written and performed by Eric Jordan Young, you won’t.

Young tries to reincarnate Sammy Davis Jr., but he does not come close. Forget that he’s way larger than the petite singer and dancer was. In the theater, size does not matter. But acting does.

Young can act, he really can, and he’s a very good actor in this performance. The problem is you don’t think for a moment that this guy is Sammy. In the 35 characters Young plays in his one-man show, I believe he is a little boy, I believe he is a young man, I believe he is a grandfather. And I believe he can sing. But as I overheard a woman tell someone else as they were walking out of the theater, “You never believe he is Sammy.”

When I think of Sammy, I think of playfulness, jokes and slapstick. You won’t find many laughs here.

“Sammy & Me” opens with a young performer reading a newspaper critique of his new Sammy Davis Jr review. The news is not good.

Next, we see the performer as a toddler, charming his daddy to let him stay up just a little bit longer to watch Sammy on TV. We meet the boy’s father and grandfather, and we see the performer shake and shudder as the ghost of Sammy Davis Jr. enters  his body.

Young can act and sing just fine. He’s like the toddler longing to be like Sammy.  The sad thing is: he can’t.

“Sammy & Me” plays at the Hertz Theatre at Woodruff Arts Center through Oct. 24.

The Atlanta performance features a three-piece band. The above video is from the show’s world premiere in 2006. Click here to see a more recent video and to go to the “Sammy & Me” website.

“Sammy & Me” was written by Wendy Dann and Eric Jordan Young.

George Grier, bass; Tommy James, piano; Scott von Ravensberg, drums.

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