If Max Bialystock wanted to work his “Producer’s” magic and make money off a bad show, then he should definitely get in touch with the folks at Music Theater of Santa Barbara. Our fine city abounds with provincial citizens that have more money than taste, and are painfully inept at discerning between a good show, a bad show and something in between. This type of audience would make Bialystock rich.

MTSB continued its 2001-2002 season with the Broadwayesque Las Vegas import, “A Tribute To The Legendary Rat Pack,” starring the famous trio Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Sammie Davis Jr.- well, not quite. Steve Apple, Gary Corsello and Lonnie Parlor, respectively, are the talented actors portraying these entertainment icons. The show, straight from the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas, brings theater lovers a musical review – AKA lounge act – which the Rat Pack performed in the bygone days of the mob-controlled Sands Hotel Casino.

The marathon tribute dragged on far too long without any flashy numbers, captivating plot or martini to ease the pain. I wondered what time it was, but, as in Vegas, there was a notable absence of clocks. The show began with an almost 20-minute long overture, containing everything from “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” to “America the Beautiful.” After this excruciating introduction, the show proper opened with Dean Martin (Apple) belting out the classic “Luck Be A Lady” and introducing the other members of the Rat Pack, Sammie (Parlor) and Frank (Corsello). During this time, a predictable routine ensued -Deano continuously made fun of Sammie’s one eye, which got old fast, while the lounge chat was both insipid and contrived. The evening continued with the actors performing many of the more popular numbers from their famous act including “Embraceable You,” “The Candy Man” and Dean Martin’s classic “That’s Amore.”

This show had little to offer apart from an evening dedicated to some classic Americana. The extent of the staging was restricted to the lounge band, or orchestra, onstage and the piano used by the actors as a prop to lean on and place their drinks, when they weren’t occasionally hammering at the keys.

While this show was not a winner, kudos must go to MTSB for trying to bring better musical theater to Santa Barbara. “Chicago,” in Oct. 2001, was the first production of the newly formed MTSB. The traveling Tony award-winning revival was a huge success and bodes well for the future. MTSB should continue working toward Santa Barbara becoming a regular stop for national tours from Broadway.

As for the Rat Pack tribute: There is a reason why this is a Vegas show; the hotels need to make money off liquor sales from desperate people whiling away hours in their casinos. What time is it anyway?