“Can’t take my eyes off of you,” Frankie Valli famously sang in the 1960s, in a sentiment regularly shared by the star’s own audiences.
© Submitted photo
The cast of Oh What A Night! A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons perform one of the American pop group’s classic hits. The Four Seasons tribute show will take place at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Thursday, Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.
The legendary singer and his band The Four Seasons have experienced something of a renaissance in recent years, underlined by a pair of stage productions based on the group’s music and history.
But while the hit musical Jersey Boys served as a dramatized biography, for the producers of Oh What A Night! A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, it’s all about the music.
“We had never seen the show, so we didn’t try to compare ourselves to Jersey Boys at all,” writer, performer and creative consultant George Solomon said.
“Theirs is a wonderful biography and ours is a show with the songs and comedy. It’s like a concert.”
Prince Albert audiences will be able to see the results for themselves on Thursday, Oct. 31, when Oh What a Night! hits the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.
The four vocalists offering their interpretation of Valli’s catalogue -- Rick Morgan, Jonathan Harvey, Taylor Campbell and Joe Conti -- are set to take the stage at 7 p.m.
Solomon, a veteran Motown producer who scripted the show, described the product as non-stop singing and dancing, interspersed with comedy and information about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons told in a lighthearted manner.
“Since we’re not a biography, we’re not playing the characters,” Solomon said. “There’s nobody playing Frankie, no one playing Bob Gaudio (or producer/songwriter) Bob Crewe.
“The guys are all being themselves on stage, so the audience gets to know their individual personalities … All the guys share the leads. There’s not one guy just singing Frankie. Everybody’s featured and everybody’s showcased in the show.”
Vocally speaking, singers in the show must walk a fine line. While the intention is to stay true to the original recordings, producers wished to avoid mere impersonation or mimicry of Valli and the Four Seasons.
Solomon compared the results to theatrical productions in which, while the script stays constant, each actor ultimately brings his or her own interpretation to a role.
“We tell all of the guys this, because it’s really important -- we have great vocalists and great singers and they can do a lot with their voices, but we don’t want them doing 2013 American Idol versions of Big Girls Don’t Cry,” he said.
We have great vocalists and great singers and they can do a lot with their voices, but we don’t want them doing 2013 American Idol versions of 'Big Girls Don’t Cry.' George Solomon
“We tell them all the time, ‘Stay true to the original. Listen to how Frankie sang it. You don’t have to completely imitate his voice, but please sing the notes that Frankie sang. Don’t go crazy on us and do all the vocal gymnastics that some singers like to do.’”
Audiences have reacted favourably to the results, noting their strong resemblance to the originals.
To further underscore the fact that the performers are not lip-synching, the cast of Oh What A Night! sings a brief a capella segment at each performance, including a rendition of Silence is Golden.
One of the songs the cast performs during this segment, See You In September, was actually performed by a group called The Happenings.
Many listeners, however, believe the song to be performed by the Four Seasons, in part because that group’s producer worked on the song and went for a similar sound.
“We like to do a little section of the show that’s based on songs that were inspired by or people thought were the Four Seasons as well,” Solomon said.
“For instance, Billy Joel has said that his hit Uptown Girl was … inspired by the Four Seasons, and we talk about that and we sing Uptown Girl in the show.”
For Solomon, the continued popularity of the Four Seasons’ music is a testament to the timeless nature of their sound, which he compared to classic Motown recordings in that regard.
Emphasizing the family-friendly nature of the tribute show, Solomon noted that all audiences tend to appreciate classic oldies, regardless of age.
“We’ve done Oh What a Night! for senior citizens and we’ve done Oh What A Night! for spring break, and both crowds scream and stand up … It doesn’t matter,” he said.
“People will say, ‘I love this because I can bring my six-year-old kid, and I can bring my 85-year-old grandmother to it.’”
Tickets to the show cost $60.38 and are available at the box office or online.