By Paul Feist
If, like me, in the 1950s you found great enjoyment watching and listening to the velvet voice of Dean Martin combined with the zany antics of his sidekick, Jerry Lewis, then you are in for a rare treat. Gravenhurst Opera House’s latest production – part of the town’s epic Summer Theatre program – highlights the super stardom status these two talents enjoyed.
Dean & Jerry, What Might Have Been, created and directed by now full-time Muskoka resident Jesse Collins, is a tour de force celebration of the birth and demise of this celebrated duo act, and what might have been had they not split up. Derek Marshall (Martin) and Nicholas Arnold (Lewis) bring their characters to life with an authenticity seldom seen in small town Ontario, let alone big city venues.
Arnold’s frantic depiction of Lewis is amazing. His voice, rubber face and mannerisms are bang on. Jerry Lewis comes alive before your very eyes. Marshall’s smooth, flawless voice creates a perfect foil as Martin, the laidback handsome crooner. Add to this an all-star band under the direction of John Minnis and you have great reason to be thankful we have superb professional theatre in Muskoka.
Dean & Jerry is Fast-paced Fun
The first act chronicles the story of their getting together as a duo and becoming the highest paid entertainers in Hollywood. This is fast paced and high-energy entertainment, so be prepared for a wild ride.
The second act takes us to when they split. Memorable Martin tunes like Everybody Loves Somebody and Memories Are Made of This will take you back down memory lane. Lewis, most known for his comedic brilliance and pratfalls, might bring a tear to your eye with his emotional signature song, Rockabye Your Baby with a Dixie Melody or, perhaps, with the classic anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Seldom in theatre have I seen a harder working pair of actors enjoying their hilarious interactions with the audience. So much, so, in fact, that they met with everyone after the show to thank them for coming. Kudos to Dean & Jerry.
Set design, lighting, and stage management added sugar to a show already sweet with musical memories and timeless comedy shtick. I know I will go back and enjoy this brilliant show for a second time. Try to make sure you and your family get to see it at least once.
Dean & Jerry, What Might Have Been is now playing at the Gravenhurst Opera House July 24th through August 16th. For tickets and further details, call the Box Office at (705) 687-5550, or visit their website at www.gravenhurstoperahouse.com.
Paul Feist is a Muskoka Ontario-based writer and author.