The Secrets of Show Biz
Reviewed by Mary Alderson
People are always keen to hear show business’s inside stories. TV programs like Etalk or Entertainment Tonight exist only to offer a peek into what the stars are doing. Everyone loves to know what’s happening behind the scenes.
So Canadian star of stage and screen Jake Epstein has given his audience just that. A look at what he’s done in his career and the inside story of how it all happened.
The title of his show, Boy Falls From the Sky, (now on stage at the Royal Alex in Toronto) is the name of a song Epstein sang in the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark. He talks about the joy of being cast in the starring role as Spider-Man, but he also talks about the toll it took on his body. Not only was he in pain from flying, his body was damaged by the landings. He was also reminded regularly about the dangers of performing in this ill-fated show where several cast members suffered severe injuries while on stage. Spider-Man was notorious for being an expensive production to mount and having the greatest financial losses.
Basically Epstein tells us his life story, starting with family car trips from Toronto to New York City to see Broadway shows with his parents and sister Gabi. (Read here about Gabi’s show Gabs sings Babs which I saw last year.) It quickly becomes Jake’s goal to perform on stage as a lead character in a Broadway show. He achieved that with the Spider-Man role, and later as Gerry Goffin in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.
Epstein uses amusing anecdotes and self-deprecating humour to tell his stories, and then sings songs from various shows in between his tales, cabaret style. This is a Canadian actor’s story of chasing the Broadway dream. His story is one of perseverance – he keeps going to auditions despite rejection. He perseveres in performances despite physical pain and sore throats.
He recalls his first appearance on stage in elementary school where he plays a hot dog travelling through the digestive system. To great laughter, he demonstrates how he wriggled his way through the intestines. Later we learn how pivotal this role was in his life. His wife tells him that she fell in love with him when she saw that first performance.
Epstein talks about his TV career which began when he was on the popular show Degrassi. Later, he says he helped Kiefer Sutherland keep the US safe (Designated Survivor) and he also worked with a now-princess (Suits) but didn’t get invited to the royal wedding.
I’d love to share more of his exploits but I’ll stop here so I don’t create any more spoilers. Epstein originally created this show a few years ago for the Toronto Fringe Festival. The Mirvish organization apparently liked it and wanted to bring it to their stage. It was scheduled to run in the CAA Theatre in 2020, but Covid postponed all plans. Due to the many changes to work around the pandemic, Epstein’s Fringe show has finally reached the Royal Alex stage.
Epstein has an easy-going, comfortable manner on stage. You immediately feel like he’s just talking to you, and you’re sitting across the room from him as he entertains you with his anecdotes. He also includes the tough times and his challenges – this show is not just success stories to garner accolades.
Anyone who likes to hear the inside story, come and listen to Jake Epstein’s tales and songs. It’s a fascinating 80 minutes and he’s a charming story-teller.
But I feel there is one more important point to be made: This is his story thus far. Jake is only 35. There will be more stories to come.
Boy Falls From the Sky continues with eight shows a week at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, 260 King St. W., Toronto, Ontario until May 29. Call TicketKing 416-872-1212 or 1-800-461-3333 or visit www.mirvish.com for tickets.
Photo: Justin Han, David Atkinson, Jake Epstein, Lauren Falls. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.
Note: Mirvish Theatres require proof of Covid vaccines, photo ID, and masks to enter.
Jake Epstein – Boy Falls From The Sky
Written and Performed by Jake Epstein
Developed with and Directed by Robert McQueen
Orchestrations, Arrangements and Musical Supervision by Daniel Abrahamson
Musical Direction by David Atkinson
Performed by Jake Epstein, David Atkinson, Lauren Falls, Justin Han
David Mirvish and Past Future Productions
Royal Alexandra Theatre, King St., Toronto
April 19 to May 29, 2022
Reviewed by Mary Alderson