The Show Within The Show
By Brian P. Sharp
So, who are these three women — these three women behind the men we know as the Jersey Boys? We’ve heard it before … it’s the woman behind the man. Well in this case, it’s three women behind the men, and those three women play over 50 roles in the production of Jersey Boys now on stage at The Schuster Center through February 5, 2012.
I had the opportunity to meet these three amazing young women backstage … in a “quick change” room that measures approximately 8 x 8. Just imagine … three women, six dressers and three hair stylists working feverishly to get these actresses in and out of costumes and changing hair styles, sometimes all at the same time — in split seconds — in only a 64 square foot space! Most women and some men (if they admit it) need more room than that on a daily basis. But … the show must go on … and while there is an amazing show on stage, there’s a whole different show backstage getting these women in and out of character. It’s a show within the show!
These women are truly busy — Ruby Lewis plays over 19 roles including Francine, Frankie Valli’s daughter. Kaleigh Cronin plays over 18 roles including Lorraine, Frankie Valli’s girlfriend, and Natalie Gallo plays over 11 roles including Mary Delgado, Frankie Valli’s wife.
I asked these amazing ladies, if they had a dream role, what would it be? Cronin said that, while she just graduated in May from Carnegie Mellon University and was able to land this amazing role — where she gets to play multiple characters within the same show — her dream role would be Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Gallo says that she has always been a huge fan of Barbra Streisand and her dream role would be to play Fannie Brice in Funny Girl. Lewis believes that her dream role would be Evita. Truth be told … I can easily imagine each of these women in these exact dream roles.
Gallo also says that there is no rulebook for success in the theatre — follow your heart, do your research and don’t give up. She loves to get to know her audience. She said that it’s touching to see the audience sing along and really enjoy the show. Gallo takes a bit longer than the other girls in the wig room — she says she just can’t do her own pin curls, and so at 30 minutes to curtain she’s in the wig room getting her hair done, microphone in place and ready for another night of amazing musical theatre.
Cronin mentioned that recently someone asked her: “What do you do if what you want to do doesn’t work out” — meaning acting, of course. She says it’s important to always have a backup plan, and to stay consistent and confident. She says that the hardest part in this show is the timing, getting the costumes and hair in place and making sure the shoes are buckled and ready to go. Timing is the biggest challenge.
Lewis said that it’s important to find your niche in this business, to do the things you do really well and be the best that you can be. Lewis said the hardest part of this show for her is the emotionally tender moments, making sure “she” is there, and she mentioned also that the audience really helps with those moments.
The costumes hanging in the 8 x 8 quick change room and other spots backstage are amazing. The snowflake dresses are beaded by hand and are rumored to have cost in excess of $20,000. In fact, one of the wardrobe crew was hired specifically because she’s an expert in beading and is able to replace any beads that might come off during a performance. The changing area is equipped with everything they need: wardrobe, shoes, belts in place, lint rollers, shoe horns, accessories and jewelry, all arranged scene by scene. It’s like a piece of fine art, in process.
So, you see … if the songs of the Four Seasons aren’t enough for you … or the rags to riches stories of these four guys from New Jersey (and the highs and lows of their lives), then you must come to see Jersey Boys just in order to see the Jersey girls! Because when it comes time for the curtain call and three amazing young women come onto the stage and you sit there wondering … where are the other actors? You are looking at them — all 50 plus — right there in those three very talented young women! If that doesn’t bring you to a standing ovation, the music and acting certainly will!
Don’t miss this amazing event going on right here in Dayton. Jersey Boys runs now through February 5, 2012 at The Schuster Center. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketcenterstage.com or by calling 937-228-3630.
Reach DCP theatre critic Brian P. Sharp at Theatre@DaytonCityPaper.com.