Still Rocking Chicago!
Copyright 2012: The Celebrity Front Page. Entertainment Information in Chicago. All rights reserved.
The latest version of Jersey Boys at the Bank of America Theatre has been called "the best production of this irresistible musical to date." The cast includes (from left) Preston Truman Boyd, John Gardiner, Joseph Leo Bwarie and Michael Lomenda.
After a very successful first run, which had Chicagoans dancing in their seats, Jersey Boys returned a few weeks ago and is continuing to rock Chicago! And the accolades are still cascading like a waterfall: “Exciting!�? “Knockout!�? “Fantastic!�? “An energetic ride that you don’t want to end!�?
The production returned to Chicago with new performers, and they have taken the baton from the original cast and are racing straight to the hearts of theatergoers, particularly those who have a love for the music of the ’60s and ’70s. With each production, the Jersey Boys’ legacy grows, and this new group continues to boost the popularity of the show after its premiere engagement here ran for more than two years and was seen by more than 1 million music lovers.
Preston Truman Boyd, Joseph Leo Bwarie, John Gardiner and Michael Lomenda have stepped center stage in their portrayal of The Four Seasons, the pop music sensations that include Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi.
Jersey Boys, which already has been seen by approximately 14 million people worldwide, is the inspiring story of how a group of blue-collar boys from Jersey became one of the most successful pop music sensations of all time. It highlights how the harmonizing group wrote its own songs, created its own sounds and went on to sell more than 175 million records worldwide––all before the singers celebrated their 30th birthdays.
With songs like “Sherry,�? “Big Girls Don’t Cry,�? “Walk Like A Man,�? “Rag Doll,�? “Oh What A Night,�? “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You�? and “Working My Way Back To You,�? The Four Seasons created some memorable sounds that still resonate on stage in the Tony, Grammy and Olivier award-winning musical.
Jersey Boys not only highlights the music of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, it focuses on the collective victories and defeats of the group, and their individual and personal pains on their way to reaching their legendary superstar status.
The musical also gives you a close look at the character and determination of four talented guys who dedicated themselves to succeed against the odds and become the best they could be. With incredible passion and a bit of genius, they went on to create a one-of-a-kind legacy in pop culture that fans continue to embrace.
Until June 3 at the Bank of America Theatre, the songs, the choreography, the energy and the pageantry of Jersey Boys will be on display as part of this must-see, crowd-pleasing presentation.
WHO ARE THE JERSEY BOYS?
Preston Truman Boyd (Bob Gaudio), a graduate of the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, most recently appeared as “The Monster�? in the first national tour of Young Frankenstein. His credits also include Les Miserables, Singing In The Rain, Oklahoma, Annie Get Your Gun, Oliver, Peter Pan and Aida. A member of the Actors’ Equity Association, he also performed in Working at the Edinburgh (Scotland) Fringe Festival. While with the prestigious National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts (NFAA), he earned a national award in classical voice and was a Merit Award winner in musical theater. As a national NFAA finalist, Boyd had the honor of working with world-renowned tenor Placido Domingo. The Minnesota native, who grew up skiing, fishing, camping and playing hockey, has also appeared on the TV soap opera Guiding Light.
Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli) has, in nearly five years, toured more than 40 cities in the role as Frankie Valli, including opening Jersey Boys in Las Vegas and Toronto. A “Valley Boy�? from Sherman Oaks, Calif., Bwarie recently released his debut album Nothin' But Love, produced/arranged by original Four Seasons arranger Charles Calello. Bwarie is backed by a 40-piece orchestra, including legends Bucky Pizzarelli and Paulinho da Costa. By 16, Bwarie was a seasoned studio singer and had recorded with The Manhattan Transfer and with Michael Crawford on David Foster’s The Christmas Album. After graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from Boston’s Emerson College, he returned to California and director/producer Garry Marshall cast him as Fonzie’s cousin "Chachi" in the world premiere musical Happy Days. Five years ago, Bwarie landed the coveted role of the iconic, falsetto-singing Valli. In addition, the singer/actor was one of the performers on the 63rd Tony Awards and the 63rd Academy Awards. Marshall recently declared that the words “Joseph Leo Bwarie�? are “three of the most exciting words in show business.�? (Note: Park Ridge native Nick Cosgrove performs the Frankie Valli role on Tuesday nights and at Wednesday matinees.)
John Gardiner (Tommy DeVito) hails from Edgewood, Ky., has been writing songs on guitar and piano since he was a youngster. After nearly 20 years of singing and playing guitar in several bands, he decided to go solo. The singer/songwriter’s CD, The Way We Weren’t, includes such tunes as “West Side Juliet,�? “Mojave,�? “Walking In Circles�? and “Get It Right.�? Gardiner recorded the CD in various studios––from Cleveland to Hawaii––as he traveled across the country. Before Jersey Boys, John played the role of “Timon�? in the national tour of The Lion King. His stage credits also include Big River, Much Ado About Nothing, Jesus Christ Superstar, A Christmas Carol and The Tempest. Gardiner, who has also appeared on TV’s All My Children, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Northern Kentucky University and a Master of Fine Arts at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. John’s favorite roles include Hamlet, Jean Valjean, King Lear, Othello and Darth Vader––and someday he hopes to be cast in those roles.
Michael Lomenda (Nick Massi) is honored to return to Jersey Boys, having received a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for his portrayal of “Nick Massi�? in Toronto. Born and raised in rural Stettler, Alberta, Canada, Michael grew up with thoughts of becoming an architect, but he also devoted a lot of time to orchestra, vocal ensemble, art clubs, classical piano and participating in plays. He graduated with honors from Sheridan College's Music Theatre Performance program in Ontario and was thrust into the Toronto theater scene. His first role out of school was the lead role of “The Traveler�? in the Charlottetown Young Company’s production of Somewhere in the World. Since then his favorite credits include Hairspray, Grease, Miss Saigon, I Love You, You're Perfect…Now Change, Forever Plaid, Footloose, A Chorus Line, Cabaret, Guys and Dolls and Rocky Horror. Lomenda has worked as a director, music director, arranger and voice-over artist.
For more information on Jersey Boys, go to www.BroadwayinChicago.com.