Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2014

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STAGE PRODUCTION:

Wife, mother, Frankie Valli’s girlfriend

Newest addition to ‘Jersey Boys’ took circuitous route back to Vegas

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Publicity photo

Carly Thomas-Smith joined “Jersey Boys” at the Palazzo four years after leaving town following the closing of “We Will Rock You.” She plays Frankie Valli’s girlfriend in the musical about the Four Seasons.

If You Go

  • What:Jersey Boys
  • When: 7 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays; 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays.
  • Where: Palazzo
  • Tickets: $62.70-$199.73; 414-9000 or palazzolasvegas.com

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Beyond the Sun

The newest member of “Jersey Boys” is a Minnesota girl.

Carly Thomas-Smith joined the cast of the bio-musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in April, about the time it reached its one-year milestone at the Palazzo. She plays Valli’s girlfriend, Lorraine.

It’s the second Vegas production for Thomas, who also was in the cast of the Queen-inspired “We Will Rock You.”

The two experiences have given her a taste of the highs and lows of performing in the Entertainment Capital.

“Jersey Boys” remains one of the hottest shows in town, so popular it should have legs for years. “We Will Rock You” barely made it a year before limping out of Paris Las Vegas in November 2005.

“That was one of the first musical theater pieces to come to Vegas,” says Thomas, a native of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. “We were breaking new ground at that point.”

Vegas audiences are unpredictable; audiences will laugh at different things on different nights.

“They’re unlike any other audience,” Thomas says. “Totally unpredictable ... which makes it very exciting.”

“Jersey Boys” usually gets standing ovations. “We Will Rock You” received standing ovations on some nights, too. But on others there would be stone silence.

When “We Will Rock You” closed, Thomas moved to Los Angeles, appeared in some TV shows and films and performed some singing gigs. She also married Jacque Smith, who is in the road company of “Rent.”

The two met during the Broadway production of “Rent.” She was a member of the replacement cast, her first big break after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College.

“I wasn’t so sure I was going to do musical theater, even though I studied acting and dance,” she says. “But when I saw ‘Rent,’ the show inspired me to audition for it. Fortunately I was cast. The show changed my life in many ways.”

Two years ago she auditioned at an open casting call for future replacements in “Jersey Boys.” At that time there was a show on Broadway, one in Chicago and a touring company. Today, “Jersey Boys” also has shows in London; Melbourne, Australia; and Toronto.

After several callbacks Thomas-Smith was approved as a replacement, but at the time there were no openings. So she waited.

“When they finally called I was pregnant,” she says. Her son, Caymen, is 20 months old.

When they called again — this time for the Las Vegas show — she was ready.

But she was in Chicago, where her husband was performing in “Rent.”

“I had like a day to go home” to Los Angeles, she says, “and pack and get to Vegas for rehearsal.”

It has been hectic, juggling her career and her roles of mother and wife. She does even more juggling in “Jersey Boys.” In addition to her role as Lorraine, she has five other speaking parts and 19 costume changes.

“And we do all the set changes ourselves, so we’re always onstage or moving something or singing behind stage,” Thomas-Smith says.

One of the best things about the “We Will Rock You” experience is that she knew what to expect when she returned to Las Vegas.

“When I first came here I didn’t realize how serious the lack of humidity and the allergies could be,” she says. “Coming in this time I knew what I was getting into.”

What she got into was one of the best shows in town.

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