There are some roles that require an actor to stretch dramatically, to put themselves into a completely different headspace, to abandon who they are and become an entirely different person.
Michael Lomenda is quick to admit that for him, Nick Massi in Jersey Boys isn’t one of those roles.
“It’s a great role to play for me. I find myself resonating a lot in that character,” Lomenda said in a telephone interview. “It’s been a lot of fun to explore that every night.”
While he may have been born in rural Alberta instead of Newark, the hometown of the legendary singer, there are some similarities that extend beyond the fact that they share a birthday — Sept. 19.
Lomenda describes Massi as the outsider within the Four Seasons. He helped shape the group’s signature sound, but also desired his own career. He had some obsessive compulsive tendencies, which Lomenda can also identify with.
“He liked things just so,” said Lomenda. “I’m the same way. The thing that makes me comfortable is coming to the hotel room and taking down all the things that make it feel like a hotel room and putting them in a closet somewhere.”
Lomenda has had some time to figure out a road routine. After starting out doing the show in Toronto, he’s been a part of the touring company for Jersey Boys for nearly a year. Performing the same songs night after night in different cities is yet another thing he and his character have in common.
“It’s really fun to do a show that mimics your daily life. It informs the way you speak the lines every night based on your daily experience,” said Lomenda. “That’s an experience that not everybody gets in a show.”
Any feelings of homesickness might be dampened on the tour’s current stop. The Stettler, Alta., native says Saskatchewan feels like home in many ways. His father is from Esterhazy and Michael has fond memories of taking a bus trip through the province on his way to start his career in Toronto.
“It’s very cool, it’s sort of like a full circle experience for me to come home and be able to perform this show, which I’m so proud of, on Canadian soil,” said Lomenda.
He says he’s also been thrilled with the response the show has gotten from Canadian audiences during the tour.
“If you’re on the fence about musicals in general, this is the awesome gateway musical. It’s got guns, mob ties… something for everybody.”
The Jersey Boys tells the story of the Four Seasons, who ascended to fame in the ’60s. The band has existed in various incarnations but has always been fronted by Frankie Valli. They are considered the most popular rock band in the world prior to the Beatles, have sold more than 175 million records and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.