Jersey Boys Stars Talk Booking the Job, Getting the Girl and a Few Onstage Mishaps Along the Way

News   Jersey Boys Stars Talk Booking the Job, Getting the Girl and a Few Onstage Mishaps Along the Way
 
Oh, what a night it was! Jersey Boys, the musical biography of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, celebrated its tenth anniversary on Broadway Nov. 6, and we were on hand to chat with the boys about their very first audition and exciting memories both on and off the stage.

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Richard H. Blake (Tommy DeVito)

Booking It: I think I might have sang "Under the Boardwalk." And then everything else I had to sing was from the show. It was not that painful of a process. I went in, I got to work with [casting director] Merri Sugarman, who was amazing — she gave me all the right notes, I guess. And, [musical director] Ron Melrose — I had a little session with him, and the two of them gave me all the right pointers because it worked.

Onstage Mishaps: Well, I mean, there's been a few. We actually were talking about this tonight. One time we were walking down the spiral staircase into "Beggin'," and the stairs broke, and we all had a little slip, and then it was sort of a matter of traversing our way through the staircase after that for the rest of the show. And then there's been a couple of technical difficulties here or there. I might have forgotten a line or two now and then, but, all in all, this show is so solid and the crew, the cast, the band — everybody is so on top of their game.

Quinn VanAntwerp, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Richard H. Blake and Matt Bogart
Quinn VanAntwerp, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Richard H. Blake and Matt Bogart Photo by Monica Simoes

Hanging With the Boys: I try not to talk to these guys offstage. [Laughs.] No, honestly that's one of the best things about this job is that we all get along so well. We are a group of brothers onstage and off, and we're all kind of the same age. We all have families and kids, and it's unusual to work in a show where there's so many guys that are in the same place in their life… So we all relate to each other so well and that's, really, one of the best experiences I've ever had, and I've been in this business for a long time. Matt Bogart (Nick Massi)

Booking It: Oh God, I don't remember [what I sang]. I really don't. Maybe like a "Jailhouse Rock" or something weird like that.

Making Memories (and Babies): One of the first days of rehearsal my wife and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child, so I was like, "Thank God I have a job!" [Laughs.] I went to see [original Nick Massi] Bobby Spencer play the role and learned a lot there and also went to London and saw another guy play Nick there, so that I could figure out how to put the pieces together. It was kind of like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time for a while, but I've had a great time ever since — playing the jokes for different audiences every night… That's what makes it really fun for me. Not only that, but it's one of the best shows out there, so audiences love it.

Onstage Mishaps: I think that there have been a couple times — one in particular — where a cast member forgot to come on, and we kind of had to stall some time until they found him and said, "Umm, you're supposed to be out there…!" So Andy Karl, who used to play Tommy, and I would make up some sh*t about how much money we made that night, what we're going to do with it, you know, that kind of [thing]…

Richard H. Blake, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Quinn VanAntwerp and Matt Bogart
Richard H. Blake, Joseph Leo Bwarie, Quinn VanAntwerp and Matt Bogart Photo by Monica Simoes

Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli)

Booking It: Song? [The audition was in] 2007. "Build Me Up Buttercup."

Unforgettable: Today my favorite moment of the show was when Peter Gregus as Bob Crewe made his first entrance into the show on that spiral staircase and the entire audience cheered and screamed, and we held for his entrance. I said to him at intermission, "That will always be an incredible memory for in the show because we stopped for your entrance, Peter, and it was…" I wanted to clap for him, you know? He's been here from Day One, so that was a great moment. For me, the moments change as the years go by. I've been doing it for eight years, and I love all the scene work with the female cast. They're awesome.

Onstage Mishaps: You name it. The fire curtain almost killed me. So that happened! A fence almost fell on me one time. There's been a lot of… Theatre is a dangerous sport. In eight years, if anything could go wrong, I think it has. If I could possibly mess up a lyric, I have. I don't know if I've missed an entrance… No, I didn't miss an entrance ever. I've messed up, you know, all the normal things when you do something for so long.

Quinn VanAntwerp (Bob Gaudio)… and wife Victoria Lamond

Booking It (and Falling in Love)

QVA: I sang… That's a really good question. What did I sing?

VL: You sang a "Beatles" song.

QVA: No, I sang "Just My Luck." It's an old Sheldon Harnick song, and I was in for [an] understudy, and as soon as I sang this song they were like, "No, you don't need to play guitar, you're obviously a Bob." I actually got the job because someone was let go in Toronto during previews, and I was sent up there. I was just telling this story a second ago, but I learned the show in about eight days in New York, and they said, "You're about to meet the most beautiful woman you've ever met in your life," and I went up there, and it was our dance captain, Victoria, and she became my wife. The first night I met her was a snowstorm, and it was like raining, and it was like this new guy was coming in, and he didn't know the show…

VL: We had just started, so I was in the Toronto cast as the swing dance captain. We just opened, we were a week into the show and they let go of the guy. You plan to have to replace a lead, but not a week into the show, you know? So there's Quinn and…

QVA: She was so mad. She walked in sopping wet, and she's like, "This guy…Oh man…"

VL: It was a busy time. I'll put it that way, so…

QVA: And I was like, "That's the most beautiful woman I'm ever going to see in my life? She's sopping wet."

VL: I wasn't looking so beautiful. But we watched the show together that first day.

QVA: [The] first time I watched the show in Toronto, we watched the show together.

VL: You know, we didn't date the whole two years.

QVA: We dated two years later… Almost everything in my life is due to Jersey Boys, including my wife, so I'm very grateful to have had it in my life.

Onstage Mishaps

QVA: In Toronto I broke my hand during "Oh, What A Night." I slipped of the bridge and almost fell off the bridge.

VL: He kept going. He bled through a shirt.

QVA: That was when I was younger… I was eager to please.

VL: They re-soled your shoes that day.

QVA: Yeah, they had given me new soles in my shoes that were quite slippery, and I was running too fast and slipped and broke my hand, but I did the show in a cast for a few weeks.

VL: Yeah, Bob Gaudio in a cast!

QVA: I mean, almost anything you could possibly think of has happened. In Boston the fire alarm went off right before "Fallen Angel," when Frankie's daughter dies. We all left the theatre with the audience in the alleyway in the Boston theatre. And, it was snowing, and we were all out there singing along to music — like Christmas tunes and stuff — and then we all entered back in the theatre, and it took the audience so long to get in that they all started singing every song from the show and we all went onstage and videotaped them doing a sing-along of our show.

(Playbill.com features manager Michael Gioia's work appears in the news, feature and video sections of Playbill.com as well as in the pages of Playbill magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @PlaybillMichael.) 

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