Wearing sharp suits, swearing like sailors and winning over audiences with the hits of yesteryear — it’s an average day at the office for four Toronto boys.
The four actors in question — Michael Lomenda, Matt Cassidy, Bryan Hindle and Aaron MacKenzie — currently find themselves not too far away from their old alma mater, Sheridan College’s musical theatre program, as they make up part of the Canadian cast of Jersey Boys, playing at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. The Tony-, Grammy- and Laurence Olivier-award winning musical, which now has productions in major cities across the world, chronicles the lives and careers of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, one of the most successful pop groups of all time.
“It’s incredible. After the show, you see these groups of ladies at the stage door,” says Hindle. “The tunes are fantastic, but it’s not just a jukebox musical. There’s a lot of good material to dig your teeth into as an actor. We’re very lucky.”
Though they do make it look easy, the actors will admit that cramming more than 30 years of music history into a scant two-and-a-half hours is no small order. With the exception of Lomenda, who the other three call “the lucky one,” understudying for various roles is required. All parts demand uncompromising mastery of the late ’50s, early ’60s pop genre, along with the mannerisms and dialect of the characters. Add the duty of moving set pieces between the scenes, and you’ve got a seamless production racing at breakneck speed, on and offstage, with no room for error.
“It’s all about staying out of the way of the train,” says Lomenda (this comment earns a collegial chuckle from the rest of the group). “We’ve got the added job of making the transitions between scene to scene very fluid. There’s so much more that goes on backstage that you don’t see and yours is to go with the flow.”
The parallels between script and life are not lost on the cast. As performers playing performers, the actors had an open door into the mental and physical tolls that show business and the road took on four working-class Italian kids from New Jersey’s hard-boiled streets. A life under the Leko lights is not an easy one. It entails long hours of work, often with little to no job security, and frequent uproots, which can isolate tremendously. The profession has a high burnout rate, and MacKenzie notes that it’s integral to stay healthy and keeping your feet on the ground. “There’s a lot of drama in drama,” he says.
“I think the average career lifespan is around five years,” adds Cassidy. “You really have to love it if you’re going to last. Acting isn’t a job so much as it is a lifestyle choice, a vocation. You constantly work to improve your craft, but it brings great joy.”
Want to go?
• Toronto: Tickets start from $35. Call 416-644-3665 or visit www.JerseyBoysToronto.com for more.
- Labrador retriever fetches top U.S. dog breed honor for record 28th year7 Pictures
- Oscars 2019: Red carpet looks and full list of winners36 Pictures