June 10, 2010

Jersey Boys Toronto–A Sizzling HOT Heat Wave!!

June 10th, 2010

JERSEY BOYS Toronto—Toronto Centre for the Arts—May 26-28, 2010

Following doing “some time in Old Ohio,” the JBB Tech Half and I hopped on a plane and headed to JERSEY BOYS—Toronto Style!

The record-breaking temperatures were not the only things that were sizzling during the last week in May when Jersey Boys Blog was in Toronto! The daytime heat wave was mild in comparison to JERSEY BOYS Toronto Company’s RED HOT performances during our three consecutive shows!

How to sum up our JERSEY BOYS Toronto adventure? To quote Tommy DeVito, we “just hit the trifecta!” Three phenomenal shows, three amazing new experiences! The JB Toronto Company DELIVERED!!

Let’s go back: Before our first show on Wednesday, we were in for an early celebration—a pre-show dinner at the Baton Rouge Restaurant with JBB Fantastic Fan Frances Fong-Lee, along with Gary Neuberg, who happened to be in town to catch Bryan Hindle (Joe Pesci) going on as “Frankie Valli” at the matinee. After our fantastic JB-talk over dinner and saying goodbye to Gary, it was time to head into the gorgeous and gigantic Toronto Centre for the Arts complex with Frances! Forget the fact that the audience appeared mild-mannered on this beautiful late spring evening, out for a night of musical theatre! They immediately connected and cheered for the song that was number one in Paris for ten weeks—”Ces Soirées-là”!

The whole thing started with Tommy DeVito—Daniel Robert Sullivan—who makes his Tommy all his own. Along with the charm and charisma as the founder of the group, Sullivan’s Tommy adds a new level of edginess to Tommy—with his bad boy smile, wry sense of humor, and his smirks. Sullivan also adds his own spin to the card trick, adding a behind his back move and a slight of hand card flourish. You could hear audience members gasp as Tommy lunges for Frankie in the sit-down scene. Even when Sullivan’s Tommy asked Bob, “How many more hits you think you’re gonna write?”–it was as if he was still leading the group, with that tone and the smirk. Kudos to his rendition of “Silhouettes” with the two “Nicks” and his sharp dance moves during the Big 3! Sullivan gives it his all as Tommy!

Jeff Madden’s Frankie Valli is off the charts! It’s no wonder he came home with the Dora Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male in a Principal Role! As Frankie, Jeff takes the audience on one of the most intense emotional roller coasters! When Tommy first calls him up on stage, Jeff looks a little reluctant, with this look on his face that says, ‘Who, me? You want me up there?’ and he doesn’t miss a beat when he becomes the young singer with the “spotlight that heated him right up.” As a maturing superstar, who faces tough times on and off the stage, Jeff’s powerful acting is filled with passion and the strength of a man who won’t give up. As a singer, Jeff’s falsetto appeared so natural and almost effortless as he brought down the house with the early hits in Act One and the thunderous applause as “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” came to an end! Ladies in the audience swooned as Jeff blew a kiss to the audience during the nonstop applause.

As Bob Gaudio, Quinn VanAntwerp is at first the somewhat shy, very tall, no nonsense songwriting genius kid–who really did play like a mad man–as he stood up playing in “Cry For Me”! The audience was in awe of Quinn’s superb voice during “Cry For Me”–when he and the group came together, making their sound for the first time. Both his vocals and his comedic timing were right on the mark during the “Oh, What A Night” scene as well. But what sets VanAntwerp apart and makes him stand out is the amazing way he goes from the rather shy, musical wonder kid to the confident man who became the driving force behind the group with Valli within the course of the show.

Michael Lomenda was spot-on as the enigmatic Nick Massi! His mannerisms, his quirkiness, and not saying much in Act One made way for the audience to really take notice when he stated, “I’ve been quiet up until now” in Act Two. When Nicky finally had his turn during the sit-down scene, the audience howled! At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, his “and you’re Ringo” line was another show stopper with laughs and nonstop applause! Lomenda’s low voice complimented Frankie’s so well in the church scene during “A Sunday Kind of Love” and during the Big 3–that it was like hearing the sensational bass vocals of the original Nick Massi! Also in the church scene, this Nicky kicks it up a notch: At the end of “Sunday,” he arches backwards and plants his kisser right into his date’s chest! Absolutely hilarious, considering seconds later, Nick’s date says, “At least now I’ll know where your hands are gonna be.”

As The Four Seasons–these four men ROCKED the house on each and every hit–but I can honestly say I’ve never quite heard a reaction that we did for three straight nights during “Walk Like A Man”! That rendition blew the roof off of the TO Centre for the Arts! If you’ve seen this cast before, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about! The combination of the four guys’ clever dance moves, the Seasons’ timeless backup vocals, and Jeff Madden’s falsetto and “growl” (with some of the best oooh wah’s EVER) were tremendous!

The chemistry, camaraderie, harmony, and terrific blend among the JERSEY BOYS Toronto Four Seasons up on that stage a JB experience like no other! Michael Lomenda, Jeff Madden, Daniel Robert Sullivan, and Quinn VanAntwerp were genuinely having the time of their lives up there, loving their jobs playing rock stars, and taking the audience on a fantastic ride that ended much too soon!

Coming Soon: Part Two: Details about the multitalented JB Toronto ensemble cast & our behind the scenes backstage tour with not one, but two JERSEY BOYS & Part Three: More Photo Coverage from Frances Fong-Lee (with a marvelous surprise for JB Blog)!


  1. Wow, glad you had a great time. I have got to get to Toronto to see this cast.

    Comment by Linda/Tiggerbelle — June 10, 2010 @ 8:33 pm

  2. What a great write-up! It’s so important that the Toronto cast be recognized for its contribution to the Jersey Boys legacy. This cast is unquestionably on equal footing with every other company out there. The theater itself is a jewel, acoustics are great, superb acting and a well-chosen cast. These people work so hard to make it an enjoyable experience for us. They give consistently every time and never disappoint. Be sure to make it a priority on your Jersey Boys itinerary.

    Comment by Gary — June 10, 2010 @ 11:56 pm

  3. Wonderfully descriptive coverage of the cast. You have piqued my interest (as did the freezing NY Eve video a couple years ago) in this cast. I’m anxious to hear more!

    I think a weekend, with more user-friendly weather than you seem to have dealt with, should be targeted for a fan gathering. Let the media there know that their appeal is worldwide.

    Here’s a plug for Jeff’s blog: http://jeffmadden.blogspot.com
    He hasn’t written in a while, but it’s worth the wait.

    Thanks to the JBB for keeping all the productions feeling like extended family.

    Comment by Audrey — June 11, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

  4. I really enjoyed this Susie, although I can’t sleep nights wondering about this cliff-hanger of “a marvelous surprise for the JB Blog”!

    Let’s see—did you find an usher younger than I am? Was there a theatre seat that was built for someone who isn’t short and skinny? Did you buy a souvenir that costs less than the national debt?

    No…now I know…Frances is going to be given an honorary Tony Award on Sunday night for being the first theatregoer to see “Jersey Boys” 175 million times…and all before she was 20!!

    Comment by Howard — June 11, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  5. Wow, your enthusiasm is really are making me think about planning a trip up north! I’ve heard good things about this production from so many people. I eagerly await parts II and III.

    Comment by stubbleyou — June 12, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  6. Absolutely great review! It sums up everything absolutely amazing about this cast. I’ve seen it five times so far, and planning to see it again next month. It’s absolutely phenomenal; me and my family are always telling everyone to go see it.

    Just out of curiousity, what days did you go? I went twice in May and the way you describe the crowd sounds like it was both times. Of course, the crowd alwasys goes wild, but something about the nights we went just brought to a whole other level. Can’t wait for the second part!

    Comment by Maria — June 12, 2010 @ 10:17 pm

  7. 1. Linda–I highly recommend a visit up north to see this amazing cast!
    2. Thanks, Gary! I couldn’t agree w/you more about the venue & the top-notch cast!
    3. Audrey–A fan gathering in Toronto? Name the date!
    4. Howard–Your guesses on the JB Blog surprise are fabulous–but keep guessing…I’ll spill the beans soon!
    5. Stubbs–I swear, my enthusiasm wasn’t just because I escaped “old Ohio”…the show was that great! A trip up north is exactly what you need to do!
    6. Thanks, Maria! We were at the evening shows on Weds, Thurs & Friday–May 26 through 28th. Did you see the show any of those nights?

    Comment by Susie — June 12, 2010 @ 10:34 pm

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