MEMORY LANE – Capturing the magic of many classic hits

Performance pays tribute to legendary pop group

Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons' many hits featured in show

Fans of timeless classics won’t want to miss Oh What a Night! A Musical Tribute To Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons set for Nov. 11th at the Memorial Centre.

Showtime is 7 p.m.

It’s a glittering musical revue written by Motown producer and creative consultant George Solomon, directed by Michael Chapman with choreography by Paul Holmquist. And it’s a show that organizers say has been dazzling audiences with its choreography, boundless energy, humour and, of course, songs that have become instantly recognizable in pop culture.

Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, My Eyes Adored You, Working My Way Back To You, Let’s Hang On and Who Loves You are just some of the hits audiences will enjoy from the songbook of those boys from Jersey – Frankie Vallie & the Four Seasons. Currently there are 40 men split up into groups of four taking the show across the globe.

Cast member Rick Wojnowski just returned from a six-week touring stint with the troupe in Australia, and he continues to be amazed and inspired at the powerful impact the show has on audiences. “We averaged about six to eight shows per week,” he says. “And 90 per cent of the time, we were in a different town every night. So it was a busy schedule, but very rewarding.”

The show brings to life a total of 30 of the Four Seasons’ hits. It’s a tribute to the songbook of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame super group with note-perfect renditions of the iconic ‘Jersey boys’.

The songs span the two decades of the group’s major hits from the early 1960s to the late 1970s disco – featured in a high-energy theatrical show.

Wojnowski, who has been singing with the production for six years, credits the enduring nature of the tunes to their catchy melodies and accessible, relatable lyrics.

“One of the things that blows my mind every time we do the show is that we have people that come back stage in their 60s who say, ‘Oh my gosh, you took me back to my high school days – that was amazing’. And then we have kids and teenagers that were dragged to the show and they loved it. They want to take pictures with us afterwards.”

He notes that in past eras, families often had a shared experience of entertainment. There were limited choices in terms of TV stations, radio, film and such.

Folks pretty much listened to and saw the same sorts of things. These days, the entertainment choices are virtually limitless with the coming of online offerings, to name just one example. Oh What A Night! – in a sense – hearkens back to that sort of warm sensibility, which is really a refreshing change of pace for those not familiar with those times.

“So when these kids come to see the show, they’re really seeing that this is good too. It never ceases to amaze me when a teenage boy or girl says how much they loved it. I’m so happy that we are reaching those in that age group – a new generation. It’s fun music. It’s touching music – and our show is non-stop, full of dancing and comedy, too.”

Solomon has also pointed out that Oh What A Night! is not a carbon copy of The Jersey Boys. There’s a uniqueness to how the production has been put together which continues to draw a loyal and growing audience.

“The melodies and harmonies are great to sing and the songs are always a special memory for somebody.”

Wojnowski adds that the show’s creators aren’t just looking for the right voice when singers audition – they are looking for the right attitude as well. It’s vital that each and every performer be a true fan of the music and love to sing it, because if there’s a hint of that passion not there, the audience can detect it. “It’s just fun – a real celebration of this music for sure. And it’s timeless, too.”

Staying true to the original recordings, this tribute indeed honours the talent of an American legend.

In 1990, Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To this day their music continues to thrill all ages. To that end, the cast of the show stay true to the recordings without trying to mimic or impersonate the group.

As for the songs’ enduring appeal, Solomon credits the songwriting finesse and Valli’s unique voice with much of its legendary nature.

“I see them as little stories, and I think they had amazingly catchy hooks to them. If you hear one of the songs once, you can sing it – the melody would be in your head and the harmonies are so pleasing to the ear.”

For tickets, call the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre at 403-755-6626 or visit www.blackknightinn.ca.

editor@reddeerexpress.com

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