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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Jersey Boys joins ranks of top-notch musicals at Stage West

Jersey Boys
Stage West Calgary

Photos courtesy of Stage West Calgary - John Watson Photography 

Stage West Calgary is in an enviable position as a theatre - they can present original, new productions that become so popular that they spawn sequels - especially their musical revues. 

They also present traditional, intimate versions of well-known plays that can perform just as well.

Then there are their impressive Broadway recreations on that same intimate stage- Spamalot, Dreamgirls, Chicago, and The Producers - most often rising above and beyond the best efforts in any of their other categories.

The recently opened Jersey Boys, a hit Broadway production (and eventually a movie) on the rise, struggles and successes of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons rubs shoulders with those aforementioned accomplishments - right alongside some of my favourites seen there.
Photo John Watson Photography, courtesy Stage West Calgary

It doesn’t hurt that this jukebox musical has been such a massive success, and with good reason - the stories and music are interesting, the actors are sharp, and the director has fit all those parts together to keep things as brisk as intended. There are not a whole lot of lulls to slow things down, aside from the opening bits - fairly typical of any story as exposition slowly unfolds the direction of the narrative…

I’ll have far more to say in my official Calgary Herald review, but for now, let’s touch on some highlights:

Casting - Director Liz Gilroy has assembled yet another boffo cast to bring these characters to life, and in many cases even a few more characters along the way for some of the actors. While I had not yet seen any big touring production of this show, I had seen THE Jersey Boy himself live, and I can say without hesitation that Evan Taylor Benyacar (in his Stage West debut) handles the Frankie Valli vocals effortlessly. This is crucial for the audience to buy into the illusion, and I’d say the enthusiastic response when I attended supported that buy-in.

Direction - Liz Gilroy continues to expand her catalogue of hit productions at Stage West with Jersey Boys - alongside Legally Blonde and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat to mention just a couple.

Choreography - Phil Nero has recreated the ’60’s in every aspect of the dancing in this outing - pure authenticity.

Costumes - like the choreography, reminiscent of the era, and relevant to maintain the sincerity of the story.    

It's a big cast to give shout-outs to, but Matt Alfano (Gyp De Carlo), Niko Anastasakis (Joe Pesci), Daniel Greenberg (Nick Devito, Norm Waxman), Jonathan Gysbers (Bob Gaudio) Douglas Walker (Bob Crewe) Josh Wiles (Tommy Devito) and Tristan Hernandez (Nick Massi) are at the heart of the story as either Four Seasons members or closely related key players.
John Watson Photography, courtesy Stage West Calgary

As I say, I’ll expand on all of this in my official Calgary Herald review, but for now I have to say, Stage West keeps adding to their proud tradition of executing stellar Broadway productions, especially in the musical biography vein.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Jersey Boys runs at Stage West Calgary until Feb 3, 2019.  

(make sure you catch their special holiday offerings in the buffet, before the end of the year!)