Saturday afternoon we attended “An Evening of Laughter and Memories of Sinatra” in Munster IN. Hosting 3 sold out performance at the Theatre at the Center in Munster, IN. This performance by Tom Dreesen, was a mix of comedy and stories of how he went from a shoe shine boy in Harvey IL to opening for Frank Sinatra.
During the 90 plus minute presentation we watched a video into that gave a bit of history of Dreesen and his long road to success. Taking the stage in black tux and bow tie, trademark Sinatra style, he took us on a roller coaster ride from his humble beginnings to the Sinatra years.
Telling of times shining shoes and helping to support his parents and sibling, he speaks of this time with a grateful heart, because that is what molded him into the driven performer he is today.
In 1968, he teamed up with Tim Reid, whom he met at a Jaycee meeting near Chicago. They authored and promoted an anti-drug campaign using what they loved, comedy. It was a huge success and launched the later named duo of “Tim and Tom” the first black and white comedy team. In those days our nation was still struggling with racial divisions and such a team was not always well received.
After several years of touring, they parted ways. Reid went on the star in TV show WKRP in Cincinnati. Dreesen headed to California following his dream to make it as a stand-up comedian. Struggle to survive; he finally made it to become a regular on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
He has appeared Smokey Robinson, Liza Minnelli, Natalie Cole and Sammy Davis Jr. He has also appeared on many TV shows and movies. He related his excitement when asked by Sammy Davis Jr once asked if he had ever worked Vegas. This leaded to them performing at Caesars Palace and for the first time seeing his name on the marquee along with the headliners.
Frank Sinatra, brought him on to your with him and thus started a 14 year tour and eternal friendship. Together they did 40-45 city shows a year during that time.
He spoke of the good times, with jokes and funny stories of Sinatra and himself, ending with Sinatra’s final days and funeral. We laughed aloud and moved to tears by the powerful story told.
Not wanting the audience to leave on a somber note. He told more jokes and closed the show with greeting fans near the stage front.
Following the performance, a group of 10 people met with him in a backstage room. I got the impression these were not just fans, but some people who shared a long history with him. They all regaled us with memories of the early days. It was a great privilege to be in that room and to share in these stories.
The performance was outstanding! The elegance of the theatre was the perfect setting and a fitting homecoming performance Chicagoland native.
I give this performance five ticket. It was well planned, executed, its mix of laughs and tearful stories fit together perfectly. Mr. Dreesen is an excellent story teller and comedian. It’s a must see for Dreesen and Sinatra fans.
Check out the Theater at the Center website for other great performance they have.
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