CERRITOS, CA – Put Julius La Rosa, Pete Barbutti, Dick Contino, Frankie Randall, and The Harry James Tribute Orchestra, conducted by Vinnie Falcone (Frank Sinatra’s conductor), together and what do you get? You get
THAT’S ITALIAN! A BIG BAND MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA. The show is made from a recipe certain to delight audiences: Begin with Sinatra-era entertainers; add singing, humor, and camaraderie; spice it up with a Big Band orchestra; and serve live on stage! That’s Italian! comes to the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (CCPA) on Sunday, March 16, 3:00 PM. Tickets are now on sale at the CCPA Ticket Office, by calling (562) 467-8818, or at
. Ticket prices range from $57-$33 ($57 tickets are sold out).
Born and raised in Brooklyn, JULIUS LA ROSA began his professional music career in the Navy, where he spent his final months singing with the United States Navy Band in Washington, D.C. It was there that he was discovered by Arthur Godfrey. After hearing La Rosa sing, Godfrey approached him and said, “Young man, when you get out, come see me. You’ve got a job.” From 1951 to 1953, La Rosa was a member of the television series Arthur Godfrey and His Friends. This led him to perform at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Philadelphia’s Academy of Music, and the famed nightclub Rainbow and Stars.
La Rosa’s recording career included such popular songs as Anywhere I Wander; Eh, Cumpari; and Domani. Audiences and critics admire his talent, with The New York Times stating, “His singing is very direct and unpretentious – he can wrap his voice tenaciously around a melody line and bring out the best in it. He is certainly an equal partner to the song lyric.”
Musician and comedian PETE BARBUTTI was a founding member of the musical-comedy-vocal quartet The Millionaires. The group toured the country for six years, settling in Chicago, then Las Vegas, where it quickly became a favorite on the Las Vegas strip.
After two years in Las Vegas, the group disbanded and Barbutti started working as a standup comic in Washington. During this period, Steve Allen saw a locally produced videotape of Barbuttiand booked him as a regular on his popular late night television show. One of those shows was seen by Nat King Cole, who signed on Barbutti for an extended concert tour. Next came performances on Godfrey’s famous radio show and a regular spot on The Garry Moore Show.
Barbutti continues to be in demand, performing frequently in Las Vegas and throughout the country. He conducts a comedy workshop in Las Vegas, in which he tutors young comics in the art of working in concert and on television. Barbutti has received numerous awards, including “Entertainer of the Year” honors in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, an “Artistic Achievement Award” from the American Federation of Musicians, and a “Most Valuable Player Award” from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS).
As a high school student in Fresno, DICK CONTINO led a double life as a football player and an accomplished accordion player. After graduation, Contino chose to pursue music and his family decided to move to Los Angeles. Just prior to moving, he was introduced to a talent scout for Horace Heidt’s The Original Youth Opportunity Program, and auditioned for the show. Contino was selected as one of four contestants to appear on the initial Phillip Morris broadcast, and he went on to win the $5,000 Grand Prize.
Today, Contino is recognized as the legendary virtuoso of the accordion. Although he is best known for his million-sellers Lady of Spain, Granada, and Tico Tico, he is also an accomplished vocalist. Contino is also the subject of Dick Contino’s Blues, a book by famed screenwriter James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential). Another book about Contino’s life, Accordion Man by Bob Boye, is also available.
FRANKIE RANDALL, a “Casino Legends Hall of Fame Inductee” and recipient of a star on Palm Spring’s Walk of Stars, is an entertainer, vocalist, and a Classical and Jazz pianist, arranger, conductor, and composer. Born in Clifton, New Jersey as Frank Joseph Lisbona, Randall became a “professional” musician at the age of 13, which led to a booking at the popular New York hot spot Jilly’s. That’s where a life-changing event – a meeting Frank Sinatra – took place. Sinatra helped Randall obtain a recording contract with RCA, which led to numerous television appearances, including a regular role on The Dean Martin Summer Show.
Randall continued to perform in top cabaret venues throughout the world. In 1982 he was asked to appear at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City for a four-week engagement. Hotel developer Steve Wynn was impressed, and offered Randall a contract to perform at the hotel for as long as he wished. In 1983, Wynn asked Randall to become the hotel’s entertainment director, where he played an integral part in the Golden Nugget achieving top status in Atlantic City. He later became vice president of Bally’s hotel and casino while continuing his musical performances.
In 1991, Randall resigned from Bally’s to return full time to his musical career. Shortly thereafter, Allen asked him to record a compilation of never-recorded Allen originals. The CD, Frankie Randall Sings Steve Allen, was released on USA Records.
Radio station WRDR in Atlantic City asked Randall to record a CD for its audience. Unforgettable included five of Randall’s original compositions and musical offerings from Ivory Blackwood and Al Alberts. Other Randall recordings include Frankie Randall Sings and Swings, Frankie Randall at It Again, Words and Music, Let’s Make Christmas Everyday, and Totally Frankie.
Tickets are now on sale for That’s Italian! at the CCPA. For tickets, or more information, call (562) 467-8818, or go to
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