What used to be a campy variety show, featuring witty obscure novelties and backup singers wearing Santa hats, became a testosterone-fueled homage, The Sinatra Holiday Project," whose title is borrowed from Mr. Feinsteins recent tribute album, The Sinatra Project.
As he did in September in the shows introducing that record, Mr. Feinstein threw off the mantle of goody-good piano bar crooner to strut his assiduously cultivated abilities as a swinging big-band lounge singer hurling romantic aggression into the air. Once again a 17-piece band brawled and snarled as in the days when the Billy May and Nelson Riddle orchestras prodded Sinatra to throw flurries of vocal punches.
Luck Be a Lady, Exactly Like You, Theres a Small Hotel, The Lady Is a Tramp, For Once in My Life and a version of Its All Right With Me infused with a spirit of predatory seduction demonstrated that Mr. Feinstein could play with the big boys. Watching this toughened-up singer successfully doing what doesnt come naturally underscored the similarity of traditional lounge singing and prizefighting. It is an endurance test demanding rigorous training, in which you can display only a carefully guarded vulnerability.
The Sinatra Holiday Project runs through Dec. 30 at Feinsteins at Loews Regency, 540 Park Avenue, at 61st Street; (212) 339-4095.