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Oh What A Night!

Stage West’s “Jersey Boys” a knockout

Theatre Review by Jason Clevett (From January 2019 Online)
Oh What A Night!: Stage West’s “Jersey Boys” a knockout
Image by: John Watson Photography
Oh What A Night!: Stage West’s “Jersey Boys” a knockout
Image by: John Watson Photography
Oh What A Night!: Stage West’s “Jersey Boys” a knockout
Image by: John Watson Photography
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Since 2005 Jersey Boys – a jukebox musical about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons – has been wowing audiences around the world. The 2006 Tony Award winner for best musical was turned into a film directed by Clint Eastwood (and featured Stage West alumni Michael Lomenda starring as Nick Massi) and closed last year on Broadway. In a major coup, Stage West nabbed the Canadian debut which runs until February 3rd.

Having seen the touring version and the film, I can say that Stage West absolutely nails it. The sets are simple (as they are in the touring version) and the show relies mostly on the story and talent on stage over big effects and staging. A key to making a great production is the casting and it’s perfect. It was undoubtedly a challenge to find an actor of the diminutive stature of Frankie who could also hit the classic high notes on songs like Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man. Evan Taylor Benyacar, making his Stage West debut, has the voice of an angel and the acting chops to back it up.

Jonathan Gysbers brings some Jersey Boy experience having previously played Bob Gaudio – the songwriter for the band – while Josh Wiles’ Tommy Devito and Tristan Hernandez’s Nick Massi round out the Seasons. All four leads deliver exceptional performances and when their voices mix together it’s magic. There is an extra challenge in recreating music that has to sound like the original, and it’s executed perfectly.

The ensemble cast is phenomenal as well. It’s great seeing familiar faces repeatedly in shows such as Daniel Greenberg who stole hearts earlier this year in Legally Blonde among many other shows, Amanda Struthman who stole the show as Inga in Young Frankenstein,  Jesse Weafer whose Steven Tyler was a highlight of last year’s Pure 90’s, and Sarah Horsman who has been a star in multiple productions as well. Add in some debuting talent and the 17-person cast combined with a 5 piece band work together to create something special.

If you weren’t around for the Four Season’s prime in the 1960’s not to worry. The story – 4 kids from the wrong side of the tracks in Jersey making it big – is one that easily resonates. The fact that it’s based on their actual story makes it that much more interesting. The songs are timeless and even if you aren’t familiar enough to sing along with Sherry or Bye Bye Baby you’ll still enjoy the show.

Jersey Boys is one of those shows that connects with a broad audience through its story, songs, and the actors tasked with bringing it to life. On all these accounts Stage West has knocked it out of the park. It’s a true must see.


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Contributor Jason Clevett |


Locale Calgary |


Topic Stagewest | Theatre |


(GC)

Image by: John Watson Photography
Image by: John Watson Photography

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