JERSEY BOY Michael Lomenda Talks Touring, Subway Compliments, and Playing the Off-Center Nick Massi
JERSEY BOY Michael Lomenda has called Chicago his touring-home for just over a month, but the closest Starbucks to The Bank of America Theater, where the first national touring cast of Jersey Boys is currently playing its 9 week run, has rooted itself firmly in his routine. He also calls a brownstone with fellow cast members in Wrigleyville his place of residence, has mastered the el (and gotten plenty of compliments while doing so), and taken in the city's architectural feats on boat tours.
"This man on the subway says to me as he's getting off the train," Lomenda laughs on the walk from Starbucks to The Bank of America Theater where he's about to go on for the 2PM Matinee, "'best tie and shirt combination ever. You done good.'"
Lomenda plays off-kilter bassist, Nick Massi, in the current production of JERSEY BOYS, which, every year or so, seems to make its way back to Chicago for another extended run to showcase the lives and music of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. He's no apprentice to this Tony Award Winning show, however - Lomenda played Massi in the Toronto production prior to joining the national tour seven months ago.
From Beneath the Streetlight to the Stage
"I grew up in a town of 5,000, surrounded by cows and oil fields, but there was a lot of opportunity in my tiny little town," he said. Theater, however, was originally, not his plan. His father, a former professional hockey player in Canada, took up carpentry and dove into construction. Lomenda, following in his father's edifice footsteps, originally dreamed of planning, creating skylines.
"Architecture was always the plan," he said, knowing the practical aspect of working in such a field. "I always figured I'd just do theater on the side."
But like so many others with the insatiable passion for theater, Lomenda changed tunes his senior year of high school, applied at Red Deer College's Acting Program, studied there for a year, and then auditioned for Sheridan College's highly-regarded Musical Theater program, in which he eventually graduated with honors.
Years later, with credits such as Corny Collins in HAIRSPRAY and Kenickie in GREASE spotlighted on his resume, Lomenda found his way into The Four Seasons, and has stuck with JERSEY BOYS, the show he credits as being "the best show on the road," one of the only to "make you feel like a rockstar every single night."
The Genius of JERSEY BOYS
There are few shows capable of drawing the number of audience members that JERSEY BOYS does, and even fewer capable of securing extended run after extended run in some of the world's largest cities. In Chicago alone, an open-end production ran from 2007 until 2010, and has now come back, only two years later, for their current nine week run.
"The show hooks people; the music takes people to a different time, it brings nostalgia like few others do," Lomenda said, believing JERSEY BOYS' ability to transport the audience back to their youth, or give them a glimpse into the past of some of music's greatest legends, drives the demand for such long-running productions of the show.
"Everyone loves the underdog. That's who these guys were, just super talented, genius underdogs."
Lomenda sees JERSEY BOYS being around, not just in Chicago, but in the musical theater world, for years to come.
"In the future, Jersey Boys is going to be even more highly respected. The Four Seasons are already part of the United States' history - they're in the pop music canon, and now in the musical theater canon."