The Pack is back and this time, they are bringing Ella Fitzgerald. The Rat Pack Live from Las Vegas sends you back in time to the glamorous, golden era of 1950s Las Vegas, when Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin joined forces and become the hottest ticket in town at the famous Sands Hotel. What’s on catches up with Garrett Phillips (Frank Sinatra), Nigel Casey (Dean Martin) and David Hayes (Sammy Davis Jr) and also Nicola Emmanuel (Ella Fitzgerald)

What can audiences expect from the show?

David: It's a fantastic show, recreating history at every performance and bringing heaven to every theatre we play.

Nigel: I couldn't agree more. In terms of the content, it's a lot of what the Rat Pack used to do back in the 60s and it's such a nostalgic show. We have a fantastic 12-piece live band on stage and beautiful back-up girls who don't just sing and look wonderful, they also dance brilliantly. And we try our darndest to get as close as we can to Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin. You see it in the people's faces in the audience that they're really reliving that time and we get a lot of fans from that era who love the music coming to see the show as well as younger people who have since discovered it. Everyone has a really good time.

How do you account for its popularity on both sides of the Atlantic?

David: It's the best Rat Pack show, not just in the UK and America but anywhere in the world. What you're getting here is a top-quality show from production to choreography, musical arrangements, the big band on stage, the girls playing The Burelli Sisters and now we have Ella Fitzgerald in it too. There's nothing else like this in the world.

Nigel: I've been part of many other Rat Pack and swing shows and I have to say it's an absolute joy to do this one. It really is the best.

What's your favourite song to sing in the show and why?

Garrett: Fallin In Love Again is lovely and What Kind Of Fool Am I. They're beautiful songs. I'd be tempted to pick My Way, of course, because it's the one at the end of the show but I do like Angel Eyes. Different songs reach different people. My brother was at one of the shows and he said there was a big geezer beside him crying during one of the numbers.

Nigel: Oh wow, that's such a difficult one. There are so many great songs. I like all the other guys' songs, actually. But a Dean Martin song? I love the duet Dean does with Frank, The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else, but they're all classics.

David: I love The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else too as well as Angel Eyes, but I honestly can't pick a Sammy favourite.

What does bringing Ella Fitzgerald into the show add to it?

David: It's like a wonderful surprise, just like you don't expect to see The Burelli Sisters when they first appear in the first act. The show is so well thought-out. It's not just 'Let's get these three guys to do all these songs', it's layered, and it gives each performer time to establish who they are. You see Frank first, then Sammy, then Dean and before you see Dean you see these lovely ladies. Then now you get Ella in act two and it's another surprise and a lovely addition.

Garrett: Because of Ella's presence act two is like a whole new show.

David: It's like it goes into overdrive.

Garrett: And the vocal colour Nicola Emmanuelle brings to it is just amazing. Her phrasing is so on-point. She nails it, she looks like her, she's bubbly and she's fun.

David: She's effortless and when she first sings it's like 'Woah!'

The Rat Pack were famous party animals. What are your own post-show rituals?

David: [Laughs] We have some milk and cookies.

Nigel: This might be terribly disappointing to admit, but this must be the only three Rat Pack guys where none of us drink or smoke.

Garrett: We are, in real-life, a no-alcohol Rat Pack.

Do you think they'd get away with the near-the-knuckle banter if they were performing today?

Garrett: I don't think so, but it's indicative of how it was at the time.

Nigel: And the guys were holding a mirror up to attitudes of that time and unfortunately not that much has changed and I think it's good to hold up a mirror sometimes.

What are you most looking forward to about taking the show on the road?

Garrett: It'll be great to meet different audiences. Sometimes in the West End by the time we get out of the theatre the shutters are down and everyone has disappeared into the London night. When we did a nine-day mini-tour before the West End people would come to the stage door and give you such great feedback on a personal level rather than just posting bits on social media.

What's the one thing you have to have in your dressing room when you're on tour?

Nigel: [Laughs] At least two of The Burelli Sisters.

Garrett: I don't have any riders at all, except a big amount of baby wipes to get rid of the make-up.

David: Just to have a dressing room is good!

Nicola Emmanuel (Ella Fitzgerald)

How is it taking on the mantel of such a revered performer as Ella?

I've always sung these songs so it's not daunting for me. I've got my own band and have been singing since I was a kid so it just feels natural, plus people have always said I sound like Ella.

What do you feel made her one of the all-time greats?

It's the way they sang in those days, not just Ella but a lot of other great singers. It's something I picked up on when I was really small, with parents who are also musicians. I prefer the way people in a bygone age sang – just the way they, say, tailored the end of a note. People like Ella and Patti Page and June Christy and Judy Garland. The way they sang sounded better to me so I was singing like that from a young. It's funny, when I was at school people would go “Why are you singing all those songs and singing them in that way?' I just always did and now it's like breathing to me. As for Ella, it's the way she brought the songs across. A lot of people sang the same songs but her rendition of them is the quintessential one. Her Gershwin and Cole Porter songbook albums were so brilliant that Irving Berling's own children asked him “When are you going to get Ella to sing your songbook, Dad?” which she did in the end. Her voice didn't have a race, it just had a sound that whoever you were – from super-rich to really, really poor – resonated. You'd hear her sing and go “This is the perfect version”. She had a voice and an innocence.

Do you think you'd have enjoyed being a performer in the Rat Pack era?

Yes, I do. I love vintage fashion and I'd love to have been around at that time because they seemed to have so much damn fun. Frank and Ella never actually performed together in Vegas but they did TV shows together and were on the same label. It's interesting how Sinatra was friends with Ella and Sammy Davis Jr and because he was so revered he could go “These are my friends, take it or leave it”. To us it's just normal but back then it was really progressive.

Do you have a favourite number in the show and why?

We chose Night And Day because it's such a big number and I love how it starts with the drums coming in, but I love them all – not just Ella's numbers but Frank's, Dean's and Sammy's too.

Does it surprise you how enthusiastic audiences for the show are?

No because it was such a great era, such a wonderful era, and there's a lot of nostalgia out there for it. But by the same token we see younger people in the audience and they love it just as much. It was such a great show that the Rat Pack used to put on and so much fun – with all the camaraderie, the jokes and the falling around.

What are you most looking forward to about taking the show on the road?

It's gonna be wicked, with some big auditoriums and big audiences. When we do the show, especially on a Saturday when everyone's out for a good time, we get such a lively reaction. Sometimes they're heckling, which is fun to play off and something that would have happened when the guys did Vegas.

  • The Rat Pack - Live from Las Vegas, Empire, Sunderland. March 15-17. Box Office 0844 871 3022* or online at Calls cost 7p per minute plus your standard network charge. Booking fees may apply to telephone and online bookings