In the history of pop music, few vocalists can lay claim to such a distinct vocal sound as the falsetto of Frankie Valli.
The voice behind pop hits including “Sherri,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Stay” and the title track to the 1978 movie hit Grease, Valli has earned a permanent place in the hearts of music fans worldwide.
Taking the stage at Casino New Brunswick on Thursday evening is Oh What A Night! A Musical Tribute To Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. Written by Motown producer and creative consultant George Solomon and directed by award-winning producer-director Michael Chapman, this musical revue celebrates the catalogue of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Solomon’s history in show business is extensive, especially considering his relatively young age. He has a number of theatrical credits to his name including Neil Simon’s Come Blow Your Horn as well as roles in Stars On 45, the critically acclaimed musical Dream Street and NBC’s Motown Revue.
Solomon tells the Times & Transcript that Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were staples in his household when growing up. Having the opportunity to take the stage on a nightly basis to pay tribute to him is a dream come true for the vocalist.
“That music was constantly being played in our house while I was growing up,” he says. “In fact, when I was five years old, there was a little girl named Sherri who lived down the street from us that I had a crush on. I used to sit on her porch and sing “Sherr to her,” Solomon says with a laugh.
Just like singing “Sherri” on a nightly basis takes George back to his younger days, attending Oh What A Night! is likely to evoke the same kind of memories for those who grew up in the ’60s.
“I think that the show really brings people back to where they were at different points in their lives,” he says. “All of Frankie’s songs tell these great, three-minute stories that people can identify with and relate to. It isn’t just older generations that relate to the lyrics, either. As a show in Hawaii, we had a nine-year-old boy crying because of the lyrics in the song ‘Rag Doll.’ It shows that these songs speak to people of all ages.”
Michael Chapman is credited as the brains behind Oh What A Night! A former performer himself, Chapman put the Frankie Valli tribute together approximately five years ago, primarily as a vehicle to showcase George’s talent.
“If you are over 40 years old, the show is a lot about nostalgia where for those under 40, it is more contemporary, based on the success of Jersey Boys,” Chapman says, referring to the Broadway hit.
Whereas Jersey Boys traces the path of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons through their ups and downs, Chapman says that the performers in Oh What A Night! A Musical Tribute To Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons are not playing characters.
“There are distinct differences between our show and Jersey Boys. If you spend the evening watching our show, you get to know the guys as performers. So much of the music in the show is upbeat and accessible that it makes the show a celebration of the music made by Valli and the Four Seasons. Jersey Boys is more like a biography of the lives of Valli and the band.”
George says that perhaps one of the most surprising things they have found concerning the age demographics at the Oh What A Night! shows is the throngs of teens that often come out to their shows.
“Whether they were brought to the show because of Grease or something else, these songs were recorded 40 and 50 years ago. We never fail to get blown away by how much the teens enjoy the show, even the songs that they hear for the first time at the show,” George says.
He shares that he and his fellow performers in Oh What A Night! take great pride in delivering knockout performances night after night, taking great care to give Valli’s material the respect it deserves.
“One of the most common things we hear every night is that people think that we are lip-synching the songs because we perform these songs in the way that people will recall hearing them on the radio.”
“Oh What A Night! is definitely a feel-good kind of show,” George says. “One of my most favourite things to hear is from people who attend is they say they expected to like the show but never expected to love it as much as they do. The laughs and the music never stop in the show.”
Article published in the March 26, 2013 edition of the Times & Transcript