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Aiming for the Star

Posted: 1pm 23 Nov 2021

A series of coincidences will see Clontarf’s Thomas Armstrong-Robley staging the musical Jersey Boys – the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons at the Star Casino.

Having directed the production for Redcliffe Musical Theatre this year, as well as performing in the role of The Four Seasons lead guitarist Tommy DeVito, he’s taking it to a wider audience on the Gold Coast.

It’s a gig he never dreamt of when he returned to Australia after COVID-19 saw him living in London, but the chance appointment of the Redcliffe show’s musical director paved the way for the connection with The Star.

Faced with the choice of returning to Australia from Barbados after performing on cruise ships via six airports or getting to London in just one flight, Armstrong-Robley made the obvious decision and headed to his country of birth.

But with the announcement of a looming London lockdown and winter fast approaching, he knew it was time to make his way back to Australia.

“It just broke me mentally and I knew I had to get out,” he says.

“I made a couple of phone calls, including one to Redcliffe Musical Theatre looking to do some teaching and (president) Madeleine (Johns) said she was doing Jersey Boys and would I like to direct it.

“The week I took on Jersey Boys, Tommy DeVito passed away.”

Back on stage

The Redcliffe cast and crew included professional performers and crew who were willing to work free in community theatre purely for the chance to return to the stage - but the Jersey Boys team bound for the Star will be paid for their work.

Joining Armstrong-Robley for the season at the Star will be musical director, Legend House International founder Robert Clark.

His son, Jeremy Clark (Nick Massi) had auditioned for the Redcliffe Musical Theatre production and inquired about the intended musical director.

Hearing they were yet to appoint one, Clark suggested his father, who was in London at the time.

One hastily arranged Facetime call later, and Armstrong-Robley had found his musical director.

“He loved what we did and after we finished, he started making some calls,” Thomas says.

“Star were looking for Queensland-based performers and productions because they knew it was still risky (with snap COVID-19 border closures impacting travelling productions) - we pitched the idea of Jersey Boys and they loved it.

“The discussion happened in May and the first tickets went on sale in July.”

Creating jobs

Alongside Thomas, five performers from the Redcliffe show will reprise their roles at The Star - Dale Shearman, who plays Bob Crewe, Adrian Carr (Gyp De Carlo), Lyndon Steele (Joey Pesci), Taylah McLennan (Francine Valli) and Taylor Yost (Lorraine).

Coincidentally, Thomas’s quarantine hotel room at Crown on the Gold Coast had a view of Star Casino.

“I didn’t realise at the time that I was looking at the future of Jersey Boys out the window,” he laughs.

“This little production has the same creative team and it’s created a lot of jobs – it’s unbelievable.”

Jersey Boys – the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons is at the Star Casino from January 6-16.

Tickets from $75. Book here.

Read more local news here.

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