JERSEY BOYS has won a Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award. It’s been playing stages around the world since 2006. It’s been here in Minneapolis twice before. You’ve probably seen it on the big screen in last year’s film by Clint Eastwood. But if you have not experienced this show live on stage, get thee to the theatre! (It’s truly too much fun to miss.)
Telling the musical tale of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, this true story of a group of blue-collar Jersey boys from the wrong side of the tracks making it all the way to the Hall of Fame is a classic American tale with music that are some of the biggest hits in pop music. Many of the tunes were written by the last member to join the group, Bob Gaudio. Drew Seeley (see bio below), a singer-actor-songwriter who has had success in film, TV and on stage, plays him in this tour. In 6 Questions & a Plug, we get to know a little about this talented performer:
You play Bob Gaudio, who wrote most of the Four Seasons’ biggest hits and helped bring this musical, and last year’s film, to life, as well as being a prolific music writer, producer and Hall of Famer… is there extra pressure on you as a performer to play a living legend and have you met and/or worked with Gaudio to craft your performance?
I haven’t met Bob yet, though I REALLY hope to while on this run. He’s a fascinating guy, and has had such a long career. As a songwriter myself, I’m inspired by his chops and the smart business decisions he’s made throughout his career. I don’t feel extra pressure necessarily because the show is so well written. Since Bob and Frankie had hand in crafting the show, using real stories and things they went through, you can’t really get too far off track as an actor. You’ve just got to go out there and have a blast, and the writing does the rest of the work for you.
What do you think is unique/special about Bob Gaudio as a character in JERSEY BOYS – what qualities made him such a significant member of the group, and how do you bring that out on stage night after night?
Well, Bob was the last of the Four Seasons to join, and also their principal songwriter, along with Bob Crewe. I like that he is a introspective, quiet kind of character who doesn’t need to be in the spotlight at all times. His personality is a nice foil to Tommy DeVito’s constant bravado.
FORT MYERS – The award-winning Broadway musical Jersey Boys that has captured the attention of audiences for years premiered at Barbara B. Mann Theater in Fort Myers Tuesday night.
“The songs are timeless and classic and you’ll know more than you think because you grew up with the songs,” said one cast member.
We went behind the scenes with the cast who tell the story of the rise and fall of the four seasons.
“These guys went through a lot of trials and tribulations and the fact that they stuck together as long as they did to release this music that we’re still performing in talking about it is an amazing testament to their talent,” said cast member Drew Seeley.
Rehearsals can be grueling but off stage they’re just a normal group of guys.
With more than a dozen costume and hair changes, the group travels to a new state every week to take the stage.
“There’s 13 of us onstage every night but we travel with 50 people who make the show happen. I mean it takes an army to make a show look that easy,” said another cast member.
All in hopes of keeping alive a generation of music that stood the test of time.
The show continues through Sunday. After that, the group will pack its bags again and take the stage in Texas.
Back in 2004, long before he became artistic director of the Stratford Festival, Des McAnuff directed the first production of a musical called Jersey Boys at La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego.
A decade after that première, his four years of leading the Stratford Festival (2008-2012) are history, and he’s back in the musical theatre business south of the border.
McAnuff, who owns two Tony Awards (for Big River and The Who’s Tommy), is now working on a production of a musical based on Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago, slated to open on Broadway this spring.
Yet he’s still being called upon to talk about Jersey Boys, now in its 10th year on Broadway, with two productions running in the U.K., one in Las Vegas, plus the North American touring production soon to appear here.
“I don’t get tired of it at all,” McAnuff insisted, speaking from his new home in Connecticut, just down the road from his friend and frequent theatre collaborator Christopher Plummer. “I do not take this for granted.”
Jersey Boys, which arrives in Montreal for the first time on Tuesday, is a gift that keeps on giving, for which McAnuff is grateful. Following the example of Harold Prince, who keeps a close eye on every production of The Phantom of the Opera, he watches over his biggest hit. “There isn’t an actor in Jersey Boys that we haven’t auditioned,” he said. “It’s important to stay on it.” He checked out the touring production that’s coming here during its San Diego run, in October.
This is Montreal’s winter of boy-band musicals. After Jersey Boys comes Forever Plaid, opening at the Segal Centre on Feb. 1.
What they have in common — besides being jukebox musicals featuring all-male quartets — is pop-music nostalgia for boomers. Also, they’ve both been made into movies.
Forever Plaid is smaller in scale (four actors), and more of an off-Broadway revue. Jersey Boys, with its cast of 19, is a full-blown Broadway musical.
Chronologically, Forever Plaid should be seen first, as it mines hits of the ’50s (such as Moments to Remember).
Jersey Boys focuses on the music and story of one particular group: the Four Seasons, who peaked in the 1960s (with songs like Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry).