By: Patrick Smith
The Algonquin Common Theatre was filled with the sounds of the 1960’s on Thursday night, as a tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons rocked the night away in front of an energetic crowd on April 4.
Oh, What a Night, the tribute and musical revue written by a Motown producer, saw George Solomon, Josh Woodie, Rick Sornberger and Paul Holmquest sing for two hours, starting the night off with the song that provided the title for the event, December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night).
The four men belted out a highly-diversified mix of hits by the Four Seasons, mixed with some stage banter between the four performers.
“We’re here tonight to celebrate one of the greatest rock bands ever,” said Solomon after the quartet finished their first few songs.
“The Beatles? The Temptation? The Beach Boys?” replied Woodie, tongue-in-cheek.
Despite their relative unknown status compared to the above rock mega-stars, Valli and the Four Seasons had a long and storied career, dating back several decades.
Their musical career included five number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the U.S. and featured such recognizable hits as I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Big Girls Don’t Cry, and Silence is Golden.
“It really was a simpler time,” said Sornberger during a break in the set. “I know it sounds cliché, but those were the good old days.”
Their impact was so lasting on the music scene that the now-famous Broadway play Jersey Boys is a scripted musical biography of Valli and the band.
“These shows prove to be enduring,” said Solomon on stage.
The cast of Oh, What a Night did not want to appear too similar to the Broadway play and it showed in their performance. However, that didn’t stop Solomon from giving it his stamp of approval.
“If you haven’t seen Jersey Boys,” he said, “go see Jersey Boys.”
Although they did discuss the Four Seasons’ illustrious rise to the top, the overwhelming focus was on the performers’ singing.
Part of the reason the group chose to tribute The Four Seasons, according to Solomon, was their extensive catalogue of hits.
“Just when you think you’ve heard them all,” he said after a song, “you hear another and go, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that one!’”
They have played everywhere from Australia to Las Vegas, including several cruise ship appearances, but keep only a few ideals in mind while performing.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” said Solomon.
The tour will visit Sarnia, Blyth, and Kingsville, Ont. to wrap up its Canadian leg.