Dean and Jerry: What Might Have Been is coming to Orangeville

September 16, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

It’s is a show that came together because it had to. 

Dean and Jerry: What Might Have Been is coming as Theatre Orangeville’s season add-on show to entice Orangeville audiences back to the theatre. It is running from Sept. 18 to 22 at the Town Hall Opera House.

In order to tell this story, we did three interviews, starting with Derek Marshall, the handsome smoothie who brings Dean Martin back into our lives, on stage.

Derek Marshall noted off the top about the consistent, “I started out actually doing this Dean Martin with a Rat Pack show. There were Dean and Frank [Sinatra] and Sammy [Davis Jr.]. We were taking that show all across Canada and the U.S. and Europe.

“I took a show called Vegas Knight. I sang everybody. It was a salute, like to the greats – Sinatra, Tom Jones, Bobby Darren.

“It was my own show, with a couple of partners, a director. I even played a casino in Germany that Sammy Davis opened.”

Mr. Marshall gave us some details about his early life. “I grew up in Nova Scotia, in Cole Harbour, just outside Halifax. I graduated from university but I really had a hunger to be on stage,” he admitted. “I liked to sing but I was pretty shy. I still had this vision of being on stage. I even had a gig playing Grouches Marx.”

For two years, “I was doing gigs four or five nights, out East, on the waterfront in Halifax. It was great training.” 

Then he “came to Ontario to go to Sheridan College in Oakville for musical theatre. I graduated and did lots of musicals for 10 years or so. I really like live theatre, to interact with the audience. 

“I always liked the idea of doing Dean Martin. So, I asked the question, what happens if these guys (Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) never split? 

“The guy was so successful as a business man. He had golf courses; his contracts with NBC were $15M a year in the ’60’s. Then, the Dean Martin Show came on. That success he had for nearly a decade. He famously phoned it in. He was just showing up for the taping. He was making movies and recording. Dean and Jerry made 16 films together until they spilt.” 

However, he made the observation, “When they spilt, it was probably good timing for them because rock and roll had come in. They reunited in ’76 on the Jerry Lewis telethon.” 

As Nicolas Arnold related, “At the same sort of time, I was playing Jerry Lewis in a one-man show, A Tribute to Jerry Lewis. I toured with the show to community theatre houses and retirement homes. And then, we premiered it as a professional show at the Orillia Opera House.”

The coming together of these two gentlemen, each playing the single of what they both wanted as a duo, “we were on our own without knowing,” said Mr. Marshall. They had both “always wanted to do a Dean and Jerry show.” 

As it happened, they were each doing their characters independently; they got together when director Jesse Collins had Mr. Marshall in a musical that he wrote loosely based in the life of Andy Williams. 

“He knew that I had been doing Dean Martin and he was interested in finding a Jerry.” Mr. Marshall said. 

“It was so serendipitous,” Mr. Marshall’s tone still held the awe in it.

They were posting notices for auditions but, as Nick Arnold put it, “When I walked in, the auditions were over.”

“It definitely seemed to come together, almost as though it was meant to be.” they agreed.

Nicolas Arnold continued the tale. “This show began at the Orillia opera house for a three-week booking.”

Mr. Marshall commented, “The night is scripted but Nick and I like to mix with the audience. A lot of seniors come out to matinees; yes, we get a mix in the evenings. It’s really fun. The younger audiences know the music.

“One of the things I hear from people a lot, they know the music and that they spilt but they haven’t heard the whole story. Most of the music that we play in the show, you can’t hear it anymore. Our band is pretty young.. 

“From one three-week run, it just keeps up. I love it, not just because it’s work. I love it -it’s fantastic. I grew up liking the music, a few generations beyond me. Nick is younger than me and he did too.”

Nick Arnold went on to say, “Since then, I think we’ve done ten runs of the show and the energy keeps going and now Derek and I know each so much better than we did – people have come back to us, having seen it in another city at another time, and the bond is something people take up on it – it’s almost like a party on stage and we have the audience to join us. “

Why should the audience fill the theatre? “This show is a celebration of a type of art performance that does not necessarily exist anymore but it is a root for today,” Mr. Arnold said. “If anybody has a stress in their lives, they should come and see this – and we work hard. It’s a huge party of two guys and an awesome band, showing the art of music and comedy that they adore. 

“We tell their story – even if you don’t know, we’ll show it.”

An old connection to Theatre Orangeville from Mr. Marshall: “Years ago, we did the Memories of the Rat Pack. I worked with David Nairn in 1996 Oakville summer theatre. He was in A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.”

A few words subsequently, with the Artistic Director, that same David Nairn of olde (sic), who remarked that all those years ago “I met Derek. Now, he’s channelling Dean Martin – it feels like such a lovely homage. I’ve been wanting to bring them here but something s got in the way. 

“Nicolas is quite uncanny. It’s not just the two of them,. It’s very much our imagining. It’s certainly got a nostalgic feel to it and it’s brilliant entertainment. Derek is a spectacular singer. He does musicals.

“This is a great way to kick off the season. We start with great quality and struggle to get people’s minds off the summer. 

Dean and Jerry – What Might Have Been is on at Theatre Orangeville from Sept. 18 to 22. Tickets at the box office, or the information centre on Buena Vista Drive; by telephone at 519-942-3423 or online at

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