‘Rat Pack Show’: Frank, Sammy, Joey and Dean take one more bow

Theater preview

“Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show.” 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; also 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $17-$46.50. Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.

Either separate or together, Lisa Dawn Miller and Sandy Hackett have a notable lineage.

She’s the daughter of songwriter Ron Miller, a name that might not hit you with instant familiarity, but his output certainly will: “For Once in My Life” (Stevie Wonder), “Touch Me in the Morning” (Diana Ross) and “I’ve Never Been to Me” (Charlene) are just a few of his dozens of hits.

Hackett’s father was the indelible comedian/actor Buddy, a Brooklyn native who exposed his son to showbiz from Sandy’s earliest years.

Together, Lisa and Sandy, married for eight years, have produced “Sandy Hackett’s Rat Pack Show,” which also stars Hackett as Joey Bishop and Miller as “Frank’s One Love” (more on that later).

While Hackett has been involved with some form of a “rat pack” show for a decade, this version, which he created and wrote, has lived since 2009, plays regularly at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and is currently in the midst of its second national tour.

The show, which will open a 10-week stint in Los Angeles later this year, rolled through 70 dates last year and typically does one-nighters in cities such as Casper, Wyo., and Clearwater, Fla. Here, it will pull into the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre for five performances, Thursday through Sunday.

The gregarious Miller, who is working on a documentary about her father — a trove of hundreds of his songs was discovered after his death in 2007 — chatted recently from her home in Los Angeles to discuss what fans of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop and Dean Martin can expect from this musical homage.

Q: How did you want to make this Rat Pack different from the others out there?

A: We have worked so hard to try and not be what people expect us to be — an impersonation show. It starts with the relationships these icons had with each other. If you put impersonators on stage, that's what you're going to get — a caricature. In our case, Sandy grew up old-school. He toured with his dad for 10 years and hung out with Sammy and Sinatra when he was a kid, so he was around them.

Q: What is the basis of the show?

A: God sends the Rat Pack to do one last show, but in modern times so we can use current events throughout. There's a lot of improv, even though we have a script. The other thing that makes us different is we've become a theatrical production by adding these original Ron Miller tunes. There's going to be "Luck Be a Lady" and "My Way" and the huge songs from these legends, but at the same time, when we take you backstage (in the show), it's told through original songs. It has the makings of a Broadway show but the intimacy of being in a Vegas club.

Q: Is it difficult playing “Frank’s One Love”?

A: Originally, we talked about naming (my) character, since she is based on Ava Gardner. But some would say (Frank's one love) was Nancy and some that it was Barbara. But we feel Ava was the one who tormented Frank until the end. She was the one who made his music passionate and inspired.

Q: This is quite the family affair among you and Sandy and your dad’s songs. And your kids are also in the show?

A: Our son, Oliver Richman, portrays young Frank when we're on the West Coast. He's an incredible singer. So when we did a bunch of West Coast shows, our daughter, Ashleigh, she's 7, said, "If Oliver is in the show, I want to be in the show!' So she came out and introduced the show. A third generation Hackett …

Q: You released an album (“Fly Away”) a couple of years ago, and you have another one in the works. What can you tell us about this one?

A: I put a lot more effort into it in terms of researching the songs. All of the songs are my dad's, and there are three songs I co-wrote with him and two originals that I wrote. I've been delayed a little with the Rat Pack show, but I hope to release it this summer.

Q. What do you think of the state of songwriting compared with what your father wrote?

A: It's changed so much. Some of our inspiration for writing has also changed. Back in the day, we didn't have social media. I hate to say there aren't great writers out there, because there are and with TV shows like "Glee" and "Smash" we're at least exposing young people to great music. But I don't know of any song I've heard recently that I think is going to be here 75 years from now.