The Doo Wop Project brought doo-wop classics and “DooWopified” hits to Luhrs Performing Arts Center Thursday night.
The Doo Wop Project is a musical group that originated in New York City. The group consists of five members: Dominic Nolfi, Charl Brown, Dwayne Cooper, Russell Fischer and John Michael Dias. They have starred in Broadway hits such as “Motown: The Musical” and “Jersey Boys.”
The group opened their show with some classic doo-wop songs, such as “Remember Then” by The Earls and “Morse Code of Love” by The Capris.
They introduced themselves to the crowd and explained how the group originated. Dias said when deciding what kind of music they wanted to sing, they decided on doo-wop “because who doesn’t like doo-wop music?”
Brown told the crowd that they would learn how each member of the group came to know the genre of doo-wop. “But first, we’re gonna start from the beginning,” Brown said. “This next song is a rite of passage for any doo-wop group.” And they began singing Frankie Laine’s “That’s My Desire.”
Brown’s parents introduced him to doo-wop, gospel, R&B, jazz and Broadway music.
“However, there was always something about that Motown sound,” Brown said.
One of his biggest influences was Smokey Robinson, whom he played in “Motown: The Musical.” Brown and the group sang a couple of Robinson’s songs, such as “The Tracks of My Tears” and “The Tears of a Clown.”
Nolfi reminisced about his favorite movies with doo-wop soundtracks, such as “Goodfellas,” “Mean Streets” and “A Bronx Tale.” He was a swing in the original Broadway company of “Jersey Boys.” His most recent Broadway appearance was “A Bronx Tale.”
They then went on to sing The Flamingos’ “I Only Have Eyes for You” from the movie soundtrack of “A Bronx Tale.”
Dias made his Broadway debut in 2013, playing the role of Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys.” Dias said that what makes their group different is that “there’s not just one Frankie Valli; we’ve got two Frankie Vallis.” He then invited Fischer to sing the classics “Sherry” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.
Fischer, like most of his groupmates, grew up listening to doo-wop music. This served him well later in life when he booked “Jersey Boys” on Broadway, playing Joe Pesci and understudying as Frankie Valli. They performed yet another song by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, “Walk Like a Man.”
Cooper was the final member of the group to explain his upbringing. He had a different journey with doo-wop. He grew up as a choral kid, which made him love singing without an orchestra.
“You get to the core of just making music together,” Cooper said. “You can make music anywhere. It doesn’t matter what language you speak…just feel music in your heart.” This eventually led to his love of quartet and doo-wop music.
Nolfi explained that before the pandemic, they had yet to “DooWopify” a country song. So, during the pandemic, they worked on their rendition of Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places.”
This was the best performance of the night. Cooper stole the performance with his bass voice during the chorus.
They also performed their “DooWopified” renditions of Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours,” Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” and Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie.”
They ended the night with an encore of Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” The audience was encouraged to do what we had been wanting to do all night — get on our feet and dance.
For more information on The Doo Wop Project, you can visit thedoowopproject.com.
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