The Doo Wop Project, a feel-good tribute to street corner harmonies, brought sweet slices of nostalgia to Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center on Wednesday evening. Throughout the performance, it was undeniable the five male performers were hooked on Doo Wop and committed to keeping its tight harmonies and smooth dance moves alive.
The five vocalists, all current and former stars of the Broadway shows “Jersey Boys” and “Motown: The Musical,” shared their individual stories of how classic 1950 to 1960's music shaped their lives. The stories were humorous and touching and set a casual tone, inviting the audience to be a part of the conversation.
Charl Brown, who originated the role of Smokey Robinson in “Motown the Musical,” was smooth as silk singing “Tracks of My Tears” and “Tears of a Clown.” Dominic Scaglione Jr., who played Frankie Valli in Broadway’s “Jersey Boys,” was impressive in his falsetto delivery of Valli classics, “Sherry Baby” and “Walk Like a Man.” Also amazing on stage were Russell Fischer, who played Joe Pesci in “Jersey Boys,” and Dominic Nolfi, who is performing in Broadway’s “A Bronx Tale, The Musical.”
Dwayne Cooper, who, in addition to his musical creds, has appeared on television shows such as “Law and Order” and “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” brought bass tones, humor and dynamic dance antics to all the arrangements. Leaping off stage for an unruly, over-the-top foray into the audience during a medley about girls and cars, Cooper ran through the aisles, jumping onto the laps of some audience members, sharing hugs and high-fives.
In addition to honoring the classics, The Doo Wop Project “Doo Wop-a-fied” several non-Doo Wop tunes, including: Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie;” Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel;” and the Broadway classic, “The Impossible Dream.”
Joined by a talented lineup of musicians, the Doo Wop Project felt like a love-fest for what some might think was a simpler time. Whether or not you believe life was simpler during the Doo Wop days, one thing is certain — the music was much more sing-able.
It will be a bit of a wait for the next Encore Series performance, as Fort Hays State University activities wind down for the holidays. “The Wizard of Oz” is set for Feb. 1.
Dawne Leiker is a frequent contributor to The Hays Daily News.