Okay, so it’s not the real Ol’ Blue Eyes, but he runs a pretty close second. Brian Duprey comes to the Wharton Center in East Lansing as Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack is Back! He’s bringing the whole gang with him — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Joey Bishop. Of course, these are all being portrayed by actors: Drew Anthony, Kenny Jones and Mickey Joseph.
An only child, Duprey grew up in Rhode Island and started singing at the age of six. It was at the age of 13 that his mom told him he sounded like Sinatra when he was singing along to one of Frank’s songs on the radio. CAWLM spoke with Duprey about his fabulous role as “The Voice.”
CAWLM: Did you sing in competitions when you were younger?
Duprey: I sang for fun as a kid. I didn’t really do anything with singing until age 28. In college, I did a jazz ensemble, but I never thought about singing as a job type of thing.
CAWLM: What got you interested in music from the ’30s and ’40s, and Frank Sinatra in particular?
Duprey: I have no idea. It’s a mystery to me. My parents didn’t really listen to it. Maybe something came on the radio and I heard it and started
CAWLM: Have you had any formal vocal training?
Duprey: I have. When I first took singing seriously, it was 2000, 2001, and I started taking voice lessons in New York City. I was working in New Jersey at the time for a pharmaceutical company. Once a week, I would take the train into the city for lessons.
I really just answered an ad that was in the paper. I randomly selected [my voice teacher] and when I went to my first session at her apartment, I couldn’t believe it. I walk in and it’s decked out in Sinatra records and autographs and all kinds of stuff.
CAWLM: And you just happened to pick this lady for voice lessons?
Duprey: Yep. She was an aficionado on Sinatra as well as a jazz vocalist. When she first heard my voice, she encouraged me to find my own style of singing, but she soon realized that I was a natural at singing like Sinatra. She felt we should just work to improve it. I learned his tricks and phrasing and breathing techniques. She showed me how to hold notes like he did and how to slide up notes like he did.
CAWLM: Do you keep in touch with her?
Duprey: Now and then, I’ll contact her. She helped me out a lot. After working with her I decided to quit my job with the pharmaceutical company and moved to Las Vegas with no clear job in sight. I took a leap of faith and my grandma’s ’89 Volvo with all my things and headed out. I had the passion to make it happen. This was in 2002 after 9/11 and I thought, “Life is short, and you don’t know what could happen.”
CAWLM: Has your former voice teacher seen you in The Rat Pack is Back! yet?
Duprey: No, she hasn’t seen the show yet. Maybe when we are in New York City she’ll be able to do that.
CAWLM: Is there anything that you’d like to do in the future?
Duprey: Be in the new Sinatra movie that Scorsese is doing. I’d like to do singing or something in that film. That would be the ultimate for me!