Photograph by Luigi Cuiffetelli
Sean Reilly is taking his Frank Sinatra gig to another level. The Ol’ Blue Eyes impersonator will add a seven-piece orchestra and more to his “Sinatra 101” show in Wilmington this month, in recognition of the late crooner’s 100th birthday year.
“We’ve added another layer where we tell the tales behind the tunes,” says Reilly. “A song is just a song until it gets into Sinatra’s orbit. Then it becomes a story. So we’ll tell the tale, then perform the tune.”
Reilly will convey 25 to 30 stories during each of his two performances at The Baby Grand on Oct. 18. Reilly will also play the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover on Dec. 12—Sinatra’s birthday.
Reilly started impersonating Sinatra in 2008. The very next year he won the Frank Sinatra Idol Contest in Sinatra’s hometown of Hoboken, N.J. Reilly, 58, has been entertaining folks at nightclubs, weddings and small venues ever since.
“I went from zero gigs a year for the first 50 years of my life to 150 gigs a year since I was 51,” says Reilly, who runs his own headhunting business in Wilmington.
The lifelong fan says he never tires of singing in the Sinatra style and figures he’ll continue for a long time.
“Here’s the beauty of Frank’s longevity,” he says. “Those people who imitate Michael Jackson and Elvis, they can only go so far in their career because they both died pretty young. Sinatra sang on stage when he was 80. So I’ve got 22 more years worth of singing, if I can pull it off.”