Let’s hear it for the guys and gals behind the Boys. This week marks the first anniversary of the hit Dancap production of Jersey Boys, which is still packing them in at the Toronto Centre for the Arts.
Here’s a look at five people who usually exist on the periphery of an audience member’s awareness.
1. CINDY TOUSHAN: Her official title is production stage manager, but anyone who knows their way around musicals would call this Stratford Festival veteran “the boss.”
On a day-to-day basis, she’s the person who keeps the show running smoothly, seeing to it that all the lighting, scenery, props, costumes and even actors are in the right place at the right time.
“From a calling point of view, it’s one of the biggest shows I’ve ever done,” she says. “Probably 1,200 separate cues. There are sequences so fast that I can’t even speak all the words on time.”
Despite the heavy workload, Toushan sounds a refrain echoed by other company members: “This is a pleasure to do because everyone is so fantastic.”
2. MIKE LOMENDA: The strong, silent Lomenda has the unenviable task of playing Nick Massi, the least charismatic of The Four Seasons.
“Nick doesn’t say very much, but that’s who he was,” insists Lomenda. “I’ve only got 10 lines in the first act, but you just have to believe that the story will tell itself.
“You have to trust that even if you’re not the focus of the scene, you’re still very important to the overall saga. I never forget that I’m part of the group.”
3. GRANT TILLY: Whether you see Grant Tilly in Jersey Boys depends strictly on what night you go.
He’s what they call a “swing,” which means he’s not on stage normally unless someone in the regular cast doesn’t show up. He’s responsible for six roles: two of the four leads (Tommy and Bob), plus four ensemble spots with multiple characters.
“I’ve never been bored yet,” he says. “It definitely keeps your mind active.”
4. ELIZABETH BAIRD: The woman who keeps that non-stop torrent of feel-good music pouring out into the audience is a bouncy, energetic person who leads her group from two separate rooms in the basement of the theatre. Add to that the fact that a live drum kit is frequently onstage and you have a possible recipe for disaster.
But not with a musical director like Baird.
“That’s the beauty of live theatre. I have to be in the moment and I can’t take anything for granted, because things change in milliseconds.”
5. ÉLODIE GILLETT: When you’re watching Jersey Boys, it seems there are dozens of women in the cast — short, tall, young, old, brassy, innocent, naughty, nice — but when the curtain call finally comes, there are only three of them.
One of the three is Élodie Gillett, who pauses for breath, thinks for a second and then says, “I wear 10 wigs and 17 costumes in the show. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of who I am next ... My quickest change is 17 seconds and that’s for wig, dress, shoes, earrings and necklace. Try it sometime!”
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