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INTERVIEW: Actor Justin Matthew Sargent On The Who And The Upcoming "Reflections Of Who's Next" Show

T.J. Clemente

The Rock Project Presents 50th Anniversary Reflections of Who's Next star Justin Matthew Sargent. (Photo: Matthew Stocke)

It was 50 years ago that the rock band The Who released a legendary album, Who's Next. Bay Street Theater is partnering with The Rock Project to present a live stream of a show filmed at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. The performance titled, Reflections of Who's Next, will be presented Friday, April 30 at 8:00 p.m., and will be available to screen through Sunday, May 2.

In an interview with Justin Matthew Sargent, one of the featured musicians, he shared his enthusiasm for the project. Sargent is in his thirties and was born in southern Illinois, but grew up in Florida doing community theater. About the show, he said, "I have been a lifelong Who fan, being raised on classic rock. Who's Next, Quadrophenia, Tommy, these are the albums I listened to on trips with my family while growing up, along with Led Zeppelin, you know, all the greats. I have done this gig for our two producers and a few years ago there was a rock Broadway kind of a thing. I asked them if they ever thought about doing Tommy (The Who Rock Opera). Things kind of snowballed from there and six months later we did the Tommy album at the Patchogue Theater with some other Broadway performers, including Michael Wartella and Lana Gordon, who are both in this production of Who's Next. It was a huge success, it sold out, people just went nuts for us. So, we thought to keep the ball rolling, celebrate another 50th Anniversary by tackling Who's Next. So that's what we did."

Then talking about the show, Sargent said, "The first half of the show is the album, then the second half is more like a greatest hits of The Who, sort like a 'B' side. There is this incredible band, Wonderous Stories, doing all the instrumentals, unbelievably good. You can't tell the difference in their playing and what Pete Townshend and The Who did, they are phenomenal. So, that is the band and us four singers are doing the vocals, although there are a couple of songs that the band tackles themselves vocally."

About the filming of the "live" show, Sargent explained, "We recorded it about three weeks ago. We filmed it live, using three cameras, it was put all together undoctored, no redos, we did the show live. Bay Street will be streaming a broadcast of it."

Sargent then opened up about working and the effects of the pandemic. He said, "There was an excitement on the stage with a live band and getting to do what we entertainers haven't been able to do for the last year, actually now a year and change. It was definitely thrilling and filled a little bit of that hole that's been missing, at least for the four of us. The last piece of the puzzle is the audience, but we just couldn't have one because of all the COVID-19 restrictions."

When asked for a prediction for what might be the high point of the show, Sargent said, "Oh, that's hard. That's like asking me what's my favorite Who song. I will say I think the highlight of the show for me is the fact that none of us are trying to imitate or recreate any of the performances that The Who did. I am not trying to do Roger Daltrey, neither are fellow singers Constantine Maroulis or Michael Wartella, and Lana Gordon brings her own mojo to her songs. It makes the performances very unique, but familiar. We are not trying to be, for lack of a better word, a cover band. We are really trying to celebrate the storytelling and the artistry, while bringing a unique twist on the sound." Eventually, Sargent admitted, "Won't Get Fooled Again, if I had to pick one favorite song."

The Rock Project Presents 50th Anniversary Reflections of Who's Next will feature Constantine Maroulis: Two-time Tony Award Nominee, Jekyll and Hyde, Rock of Ages, American Idol; Lana Gordon: Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King; Justin Matthew Sargent: My Life Is A Musical at Bay Street Theater, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ Superstar; and Michael Wartella: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Tuck Everlasting, Wicked.

Tickets are $20, plus applicable fees.

For more information, visit www.baystreet.org.

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