Wolverhampton-born TV star ready to return home for night of big Sinatra hits

A Black Country-born actor and singer has returned to bring his own unique tribute to a musical legend to the stage.

Richard has travelled the world, but still has Wolverhampton very close to his heart
Richard has travelled the world, but still has Wolverhampton very close to his heart

Richard Shelton will be performing his critically acclaimed, multi-award-winning play Sinatra: Raw at Dudley Town Hall on Friday, bringing him back to the region he still calls home, even after years of living in Los Angeles.

The Wolverhampton-born performer has toured the world with his play, which tells the story of Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs in 1971 as he takes stock of his life, from leader of the Rat Pack to his doomed romance with Ava Gardner.

The show becomes a celebration of Sinatra's music, with I’ve Got You Under My Skin, I’m a Fool to Want You, Angel Eyes, A Very Good Year, That’s Life, One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) and My Way among the classics sung by Richard.

For Richard, who hit the nation's TV screens playing Dr Adam Forsythe in Emmerdale in 2005, the music of Sinatra was something which found him and gave him a voice.

He said: "I think Frank Sinatra found me as opposed to me finding him as I was aware of him from a young age and remember seeing an image of him when I was six and thinking I resembled him at a young age.

"My dad had always liked big band and swing jazz music and I tended to listen to the Sinatra stuff as it was a way out for me, so I intuitively learned the intent of the lyrics and the vocals formed for me.

“I grasped the meaning of it all. I understood the pain of If You Go Away, the celebration of Hallelujah, I Love Her So. Sinatra has always been my influence.”

After turning 40, he was gifted the book, ‘Rat Pack Confidential’ and just one year later, he was cast to play Frank Sinatra in the dramatic adaptation of the same book leading to stellar reviews.

This has led to Sinatra: Raw, a show Richard has said goes beyond pastiche or imitation and feels like inhabiting the character, similar to how Rami Malek played Freddie Mercury and Cate Blanchett became Queen Elizabeth I, and spoke about what people could expect.

Richard wrote and performs as Frank Sinatra in "Frank Sinatra: RAW", a tale of his first retirement show in 1971

He said: "It's a play and people can expect to experience the open heart and open wound of an icon they think they know a lot about, but will learn a lot more.

"What's more, they get the marvellous music, ending with My Way, an anthem that, allegedly, he didn't like, but I don't believe that and, secretly, I think he loved it.

"It's a wonderful evening of entertainment and an hour with Frank Sinatra that will seem to go by very quickly."

For Richard, it was also exciting and very important to come back to his home region, having never forgotten where he came from.

He said: "I'm very proud of having come from Wolverhampton and I talk about it a lot and I'm quite famous in my shows as people will say Frank Sinatra and go, 'oh yes, the guy from Wolverhampton'.

"I had a very happy upbringing there and while I left when I was 18 to go to London as it was where I needed to be in my life, it's very important to come home and I have a great fondness for it.

"I'll also be back there in October 29 with a big band concert with the St. Lawrence Orchestra at the Grand Theatre, so it's going to be an exciting year."

Sinatra: Raw will be performed at Dudley Town Hall on Friday, March 31 at 7.30pm.

To find out more and to buy tickets, go to boroughhalls.co.uk/sinatra-raw.html.

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