Back in season

Oh What A Night!: A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons recalls the band's hits...
Oh What A Night!: A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons recalls the band's hits of the '60s and '70s. Photo supplied.
The music of Frankie Valli is back in season next month. Nigel Benson talks to Oh What A Night! writer and performer George Solomon.

The wireless hits of the '60s and '70s crackle back to life in Dunedin next week.

Oh What A Night!: A Musical Tribute to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons celebrates the life, music and times of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

''It's one of those groups people have a connection with. The groups back then were so distinctive. When you heard Frankie Valli on the radio you knew it was Frankie Valli,'' writer and performer George Solomon says on tour from Queanbeyan, Australia.

''A lot of the appeal of this is the music. The songs are so catchy and timeless. The writers were so clever and wrote things everybody could relate to. It wasn't only great lyrics, though. The melodies were so beautiful and so contagious.''

The group's hits include Sherry (1962), Big Girls Don't Cry (1962), Walk Like a Man (1963), Rag Doll (1963), Oh, What a Night (1975) and Grease (1978).

''I've always loved the three-minute little masterpieces that band used to create. I was about 5 years old when my sisters would play Frankie Valli in the house. The music was so much fun to hear as child and even today I never get tired of doing these songs,'' Solomon says.

''I think the movie Chicago was tremendously popular and opened the door for other things. Musicals on stage have never gone away.

''It really is an excellent show. We have some amazing singers in this show. It's like a Radio City music hall in someone's living room. You can't go wrong with the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons because, when people are watching the show, they can't believe how many hits they have,'' he says.

''Also, the appeal of our show isn't limited to any age group. You can bring the entire family. Kids and pre-teens enjoy it as much as adults. The melodies are so singable. They run around in your head. The harmonies are so intimate and so pleasing to the ear. It's definitely a show for all ages.

''It's also filled with comedy. There's a lot of banter and we give a lot of information about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in a humorous way.''

Solomon grew up in Monongahela, near Pittsburgh, and left home at 15 to move to New York to perform professionally.

''I always liked to sing and I got cast in a lot of musicals, so I thought, well if people want to pay me to sing, then I'll sing.''

Within two years he had won the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Actor and Las Vegas Entertainment Personality Of The Year Award. He has since performed and written with a galaxy of major stars, including Diana Ross, Bill Cosby, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Harry Connick Jr and Liza Minnelli.

''Liza Minnelli was such a fun lady and so nice and Diana Ross was really lovely, too. Smokey Robinson is one of the nicest men on the planet. You hear about the so-called diva behaviour of some performers and then you meet them and you think `Where did that come from?','' he muses.

Appearing with Solomon in the production are Paul Holmquist, Brandon Albright and Rick Morgan.

See it

Oh What a Night!: A Musical Tribute To Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons is on at 7.30pm at the Regent Theatre in Dunedin on March 5 and at the Oamaru Opera House on March 6.

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