It’s time to break out the skinny neckties and channel your inner falsetto. The Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons tribute concert, “Let’s Hang On!” makes its way to Tilles Center on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 3 p.m..
Hosted by Maestro Louis Panacciulli and the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra, these special guests bring some rock ‘n roll flair to the Pops annual benefit concert for Cerebral Palsy of Nassau.
“Let’s Hang On!” is billed as America’s “#1 Frankie Valli tribute show.” Based in Orlando. Fla., the band performs all over the country to sold-out crowds. When Panacciulli first heard about the group, he says he knew they would be perfect for the Gala.
“When it happens you know it. It’s like going shopping for one special thing and suddenly it jumps right off the rack,” he says. “I thought ‘Jersey Boys’ was great on Broadway and everyone loves the music of the Four Seasons.” He was hooked — and they were booked.
The 70-member Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra will join the four singers and four musicians, with Maestro Panacciulli conducting. Audiences will be taken on a trip down memory lane, hearing iconic mega-hits from the heyday of the Four Seasons. Those beloved tunes will include “Walk Like a Man”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Ragdoll,” “Who Loves You,” “Sherry” and of course, “Let’s Hang On,” among other songs.
The performers capture that sleek 60s-inspired choreography with the crisp harmonies that are a trademark of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and made them one of the greatest vocal groups of all time. “Whether you lived through the 60s or not, the songs produced by this amazing group of musicians still resonate today,” says Panacciulli. “I think a lot of people will be singing along.”
The concert will shine with other musical performances as well, notably a solo outing by the Nassau Pops Symphony Orchestra performing arrangements inspired by the Four Seasons.
When putting together his program, it’s clear Panacciulli is certainly not afraid to veer off the obvious path. He once booked a Liberace impersonator to perform at the gala. (“It was amazing,” he says.)
This time around he flirted with the idea doing other 60s hits but couldn’t find orchestral arrangements to his liking. Then he got an idea. Instead of focusing on playing the music from the era, he decided to go with a medley of songs celebrating the real four seasons — as in spring, summer, winter and fall. Selections will include “Younger Than Springtime” from South Pacific and George Gershwin’s “Summertime” from Porgy & Bess, among others.
No benefit concert would be complete without a performance by Creation, of course, the ensemble of singers who participate in the CP Nassau’s Adult Day Treatment Program. They first performed in public 14 years ago at the premiere gala and Panacciulli is proud to see how their confidence has developed over the years. Featured singers Chris Wawrzonek and David Tindal will perform the moving ballad “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” a song made famous by The Hollies; “Sweet Caroline,” Neil Diamond’s joyous ode to love and “Unchained Melody,” which some argue is one of history’s greatest love songs.
“I’m filled with such a sense of gratitude that I can affect two lives by giving them a chance to perform in front of a full orchestra and a large audience,” says Panacciulli. “We share something special when we share music together.”
Panacciulli’s enthusiasm for this event and passionate support of CP Nassau never wanes. He explains that his mother — who passed away in 2013 —encouraged him to get involved with the organization. That led to the first such concert, which 14 years later is stronger than ever. “It’s a chance to use my music to reach out to people to do some good. Or to sum it up in three words to “give something back.”
Panacciulli gratefully acknowledges Long Island-based credit union NEFCU, which has been the gala’s title sponsor since 2012. All proceeds from every ticket sold are donated directly to CP of Nassau.
To purchase tickets ($35, $45, $55), call the box office at (516) 299-3100 or visit www.tillescenter.org.