When Jersey Boys debuted on Broadway in 2005, it took the theater world by storm. A well-crafted history of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, told in four “seasons” which allowed each member of the group to share his and their story, the show brought to life both the group’s origins in a rough part of New Jersey and the music that catapulted the group to stardom in the 1960s and 1970s.
Four original cast members — Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer — earned acclaim, with Spencer receiving a Tony nomination and Hoff winning a Tony for best featured actor in a musical for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito. The show itself also won a Tony for Best Musical and ran on Broadway until 2017.
The Show Goes on
Of course by the time the final curtain fell on its Broadway run, the original cast had long since left the show. But the show has gone on in a very real sense with Hoff, Longoria, Reichard, and Spencer continuing to work together for more than a decade as The Midtown Men.
Currently on their holiday tour, the quartet visits the area twice in the coming weeks, and Cleveland native Reichard is familiar with the towns and the venues. He shared the origins of Midtown Men in a recent phone interview with Whatzup.
“It really started when we were still in the show,” he said. “We were asked to sing at a Red Cross benefit, and then we’d be asked to sing at a celebrity birthday party, so we started putting together a quick show that we could do when asked. After we left the show, the invitations kept coming. So we created our own set in the tradition of the Rat Pack — gentlemen in suits singing songs, doing all the hits, and making fun of ourselves and each other. We realized we could take this on the road, and it’s been very special and a good experience career-wise. So far we’ve done a thousand concerts together.”
Like the Rat Pack
While they certainly perform those classic Four Seasons songs, Midtown Men provides an opportunity to go beyond that selection of material, allowing each man to dip into his own favorite material.
“The catalog is so rich,” Reichard said. “We’re doing new old songs every week, and we’re doing songs as individuals based on our own favorites. Christian loves ‘Happy Together,’ I love doing songs by the Rascals, Michael is into the Ronettes, and Bobby loves Marvin Gaye. We’re really creating something like the Rat Pack in the 1960s and the rock n’ roll scene of the time. We have that four-part blend and trumpet, saxophone, and trombone, so we can recreate that horn section like Count Basie had and that Sinatra did. We really connect the songs to our favorites of the ’60s, all of those iconic classics, and we do a large sequence of Jersey Boys songs.”
Add to that the current mix of holiday songs, which Reichard admitted wasn’t that interesting to him when first conceived.
“I originally didn’t like the idea of the holiday show when we were first talking about it,” Reichard said. “It started as an afterthought that we’d throw in a few holiday songs. But now it’s my favorite time of year with the show, and I love singing those classic songs in December. The feel so fresh in the moment when we perform them. We’re doing 10 of those shows between now and December, so we’ll have plenty of frequent flier miles at the end of it.”
Having worked together for so long, the foursome has become a brotherhood of its own. While the original Jersey Boys experienced some fairly dramatic highs and lows with each other, the four men who furthered their legacy on Broadway have kept their relationships on a much more even keel.
“We have spent so much time together in the last 14 years,” Reichard said. “It’s so natural, so second nature to be together. We kind of take it for granted because we’re together so much. When we’re not working, we go our separate ways and put our energy into our private lives — our spouses, our children, our dogs. It’s a great way to balance our time, and then when we’re on stage we have a blast together. Every band has its up and downs with each other. I have four brothers, and my relationships with them aren’t nearly as intense as it is with these three guys. But I love each of them like they were my brothers.”
The Midtown Men may have 14 years behind them, but Reichard said that he isn’t entirely sure how many are still ahead of them as a quartet. But he also knows that there will always be a connection and ways for them to take a stage together.
“I’m not sure what the future holds for us after this year,” he said. “But whenever we’re asked to sing together, I’ll be happy and proud to do so. No matter what, we’ll get together and sing. Any time there’s a great opportunity to sing together, we’ll take it.”
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