It ain’t no Jersey Boys, and that’s OK with the co-creator of Oh What a Night!, which pays tribute to the music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in scripted-concert fashion.
On the phone from Pittsburgh, where he’s visiting relatives, George Solomon riffed on the differences between the hit musical and the show that returns to Surrey’s Bell Performing Arts Centre on Friday, Dec. 15.
“It’s not like Jersey Boys,” he said of Oh What a Night!, “but our show is scripted, with a lot of dialogue, and it’s fun. Jersey Boys is a wonderful show and it’s obviously a biography, and it’s kind of a heavy story, but ours is very, very light and fun, very family-friendly. You can bring your kids to it, your grandmother, and it’s informative – we talk about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons but it’s done in a very humorous way.
“And everybody takes a turn singing lead,” Solomon continued, “so there’s not one lead singer and a backup singer, every guy is featured in the show, so that also makes it unique and not like a biography. Everybody has a turn in the spotlight in this show.”
Solomon wrote the script and co-produces Oh What a Night!, which also employs him as a singer, along with close to 30 other performers currently touring the production, first staged in Las Vegas in 2008.
”I still do the show,” he explained, “but I didn’t do this Canada tour (which began in Halifax on Nov. 21 and works its way west) because I had a Vegas booking I had to do. I wish I could be there, because I love touring Canada. I hope to come back soon, but there is a great cast up there, for sure.”
This time around, the show is given some Christmas spirit in the form of festive songs made famous by crooner Andy Williams and the Williams Brothers. In fact, Solomon said the whole second act is devoted to songs such as “It’s The Holiday Season”, “Jingle Bells”, “The Christmas Song”, “White Christmas”, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and also Williams’ signature song, “Moon River.”
Some years ago, Solomon and others performed with Williams at his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Mo.
“He had specifically requested us, and we did three summers in a row there, before Andy’s death a few years ago,” Solomon recalled. “He was a wonderful man and very supportive of us.… We did some Christmas songs with him, and it was such a success that during the holiday season, we started branching out and, as a tribute to Andy, we do a Christmas segment. So along with the Oh What a Night! show, you also get a nice big chunk of holiday cheer. It’s really beautifully done.”
During the non-December months, it’s those all those Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons hits that keep the Rocklands Entertainment show going – “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Sherry” and others that filled radio airwaves with harmonies, starting in the early 1960s.
”People think they know all the songs until we start doing them and then it’s like, ‘Wow, forgot about that one!’” Solomon related. “And I think because we’re not a long biography, we have more time for the music in our show. We have six or seven top-10 hits that weren’t in Jersey Boys just because they didn’t have time.
“People who are big Jersey Boys fans will come to our show (and) we get a stamp of approval from them as well,” Solomon added. “They’ll say things like, ‘Wow, you did ‘Grease’ and ‘Swearin’ to God’ and ‘Candy Girl,’ all those songs that weren’t in Jersey Boys,’ and that’s nice to hear. Also, people forget that the original Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons never danced a step (on stage), they stood still and played their instruments, but this show is fully choreographed and we never stop moving.”
For tickets ($59.50) and more details about the Surrey tour date, visit bellperformingartscentre.com or call 604-507-6355.