January 20, 2009

Jeremy Kushnier: A Great Fit as a Jersey Boy!

January 20th, 2009

Jeremy Kushnier
(Photo: Stan Behal/Sun Media)

Toronto Sun Columnist John Coulbourn has an in-depth interview with Toronto’s Tommy DeVito–Jeremy Kushnier! According to Coulbourn, Kushnier is a Jersey boy through and through.

Which is kind of strange, when you think about it, considering that Kushnier got his start in Winnipeg. Yet, as anyone who has caught Kushnier’s performance in Jersey Boys: The Story Of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons since it opened here in August can tell you, he wears Jersey — its strut, its attitude, its cockiness — like a second skin.

As a result, from the moment the curtain went up on the touring production that introduced Toronto audiences to the show at the Toronto Centre For The Arts, Kushnier, cast as bad boy Tommy DeVito, had them eating out of his hands.

Small wonder then that when Dancap decided to capitalize on the success of the Tony-winning production and transform it into a made-in-Canada company that could put down roots here, Kushnier would be offered the chance to stay on Canadian soil and be part of that production.

But would he take it, having already essayed the role in a couple of road companies?

“It didn’t take but a second, knowing I was going to come back here,” he admits happily, adding that the fact his new wife, Jenny Lee Stern (who he met doing the show) is also in the Canadian company kind of cemented things.

“We both decided we wanted to be part of this from the ground up, so that we would get to feel like the family, which is what this show is all about,” he explains.

Indeed, since that touring production first opened here in Toronto, Canadians have embraced it like family — a fact that’s not likely to change when the new cast — Kushnier playing DeVito, Jeff Madden sharing the role of Frankie Valli with Adrian Marchuk, Quinn Vananwerp as Bob Gaudio and Michael Lomenda as Nick Massi — officially takes over today, capping weeks of rehearsals and previews with their own re-opening night.

And chances are Kushnier has been playing big brother, with castmates looking to him for validation and support during the rehearsal process. After all, he’s been involved in the show since May 2007.

Experience, it turns out, has its advantages.

“It’s a helluva lot easier to be in the rehearsal room when you know the show,” Kushnier concedes with an easy smile, adding, “What I’ve discovered about this show is that if you just get out of its way, it works. It’s pretty much a no-brainer. Everything just falls into place.”

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