Archive for June, 2011
Run, don’t walk, to see the Midtown Men
BY ELIZABETH OGUSS
OF THE MONTCLAIR TIMES
Thursday June 30, 2011,
One sign of a good show is when audiences leave the theater humming.
Four stars from the original cast of “Jersey Boys,” the Tony Award-winning musical about the Four Seasons, are still performing together.
But now they’re the Midtown Men and they’ve branched out: they sing the 1960s.
The Midtown Men — Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, and J. Robert Spencer — are not affiliated with “Jersey Boys,” but the energy and showmanship they brought to Broadway is now poured into a stage show they’re bringing to Yogi Berra Stadium on July 9 in a family-friendly event with Joe Piscopo as master of ceremonies. Proceeds will benefit the educational programs of the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center.
“Jersey Boys” was built on the Four Seasons’ distinctive sound. The Midtown Men have taken that sound and “applied it to all the groups and great icons of the 60s,” Hoff said.
The Midtown Men sing it all, or almost all.
“We wanted to pick the most famous memorable iconic songs of the ’60s,” said J. Robert Spencer, who’s known as Bobby, “to put in our act that would allow people to reflect back. … The songs of the 60s are so resonant today,” he said.
Their repertoire includes songs by the Mamas and the Papas, Beach Boys, Neil Sedaka, and the Turtles, among others. Longoria, a tenor who played both Joe Pesci and Frankie Valli on Broadway, still has plenty of opportunities to sing falsetto.
The group has just recorded an album of their own arrangements of classic songs.
“In the studio we go back and forth on what kind of envelope can we push in terms of new energy and new approaches to the music, and still maintain the integrity of these classic songs,” Hoff said. ”We have a hybrid goal: old music with a new twist and new music with an old twist.”
“Christian always says we’re ambassadors to the ’60s music, doing it for real. Not just as a cover band but really taking on these songs as if we were there,” Longoria said. Longoria won’t give his age, but says he’s the baby of the group. The others are in their early 40s.
“How do we do this and do it justice?” Longoria said. ”That’s what our fans enjoy and we enjoy doing that too.”
On stage, the four performers play themselves.
“We’re realizing that we ourselves are the characters and the story is our own,” said Hoff. “We’ve grown as four men in ways that you can only do by going through the fire, by really pursuing … the dream, which for us is to sing and tell our story and make people happy. We’re entertainers,” he said.
“There’s a line in [Jersey Boys] that we live by,” Hoff said. ”You don’t forget where you come from.
“‘Jersey Boys’ transformed our lives, individually and together, and continues to do that,” he said. “The work that we did in the show — four guys come together to … portray characters that were larger than life but full of humanity, and this great story and this great music combining with that real-life stuff — has carried into our own lives.”
Longoria says every Midtown Men show is different.
“You never know what you’re going to get as far as personality on the stage,” he said. ”We have so many stories that come out of the air.
“You know when someone’s going to go on a tangent or you know when to interrupt them,” he said, laughing. ”It’s like a vaudevillian experience.”
Hoff, Spencer, and Longoria all agree that the Midtown Men genuinely enjoy one another’s company. That’s a good thing: in addition to arranging, choreographing, rehearsing, and running the business of being the Midtown Men, they traveled to 46 dates in 2010 and are on track to do 70 or more this year.
“I’m in such a good group of guys,” Spencer said. ”We could be doing anything. We choose to sing together because we know this is the time to do it.”
Are The Midtown Men playing a concert in a city near you? If so, then join The Midtown CLUB “STREET CREW”, and help spread the word. Each CREW member will receive a STREET PACK, which will include flyers to “paper the town”, stickers and an exclusive STREET CREW key chain.
Send us proof of your hard work, and we’ll set you up with a personal photo opportunity with the MEN after the concert! (Send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Category: STREET CREW
A: Christian – My favorite group song to perform is ‘Dawn’. It is such a great storytelling hit, as many of the Four Seasons tunes are, because it has so much heart and conflict in it. The great thing about the 60’s music that we identify with as a group, is that this music is about something: relationships and social and class topics that you don’t really get to sing about as a guy, so that is very cool.
But now, as we’re touring and influenced by other regions and perspectives, I have to admit that the Motown Medley is my new favorite. I love the diversity of our show. These 1960’s songs cover the gamut of musical expression. This is defining The Midtown Men and is becoming a lifestyle for us and for our audiences.
“The Midtown Men Live & Up Close at Sycuan Casino”
Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with The Midtown Men…when they bring their fabulous 60′s-style music to San Diego! Tickets are now on sale for the September 3rd Sycuan Casino concerts, with two show times to choose from. Tickets are just $25/$35 for the 6:00 and 8:30 shows, and are available at the box office or online.
The Showcase Theatre at Sycuan Casino bills itself as San Diego’s premiere venue for live entertainment. Featuring state-of-the-art sound and lighting, excellent acoustics and just 457 plush seats, the audience can get up close and intimate from any seat in the house!
Click here to purchase tickets online.
Additional details: Box office hours are 11 am to 12 midnight; cocktail service from two full bars located inside the Theatre; all events are for 21 and older; limited wheelchair availability.
Category: The MUSIC
A: Daniel - There’s not a single song in our show that I don’t love to sing. The time when we all sing together, I love to sing ‘You’re All I Need To Get By’, Marvin Gaye. That is, to me, a total adrenaline rush, when the four of us come together and sing that song. And the audience can feel it. And we’ve sung it, you know, in front of a tough audience or two, and you can see their faces change as we sing it, because we just give it all we’ve got.
As far as the songs that I sing in the show, I love to sing ‘Up on the Roof’, which was a Drifters song, amongst other people. I love that song so much because in a certain way it’s a meditation for me. The first couple of times I did it in concert with the guys, I was nervous because it was a new song for us, and I’d think “I hope I do it right, I hope I get all the lyrics right.” And then I thought to myself after that, if I am ever nervous about singing this song … about peace and relaxing and letting it all go and getting away from the hustle of the world… if I’’m nervous about it, I’m wasting my time. So now, every time I sing it I let myself feel that release from the world and just enjoy it. And of course I’m up there with my best friends singing it, so it’s a very warm feeling.
from the Yogi Berra Museum website:
Summer Concert with The Midtown Men, 4 Stars from the original cast of Jersey Boys
A family-friendly summer concert featuring The Midtown Men: Four Stars from the original cast of Broadway’s smash hit Jersey Boys. Tony Award winners Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer, who starred together on Great White Way as the iconic rock group The Four Seasons, bring their signature sound to the hits of the 1960s in a special performance - with master of ceremonies Joe Piscopo – to benefit the Museum’s educational programs.
•Tickets range from $250 VIP (includes pre and post reception at the Yogi Berra Museum, field seating and parking, limited to 150) / $ 75 stadium box seats / $50 stadium reserved seating and stadium box seats behind the net / $25 stadium bench seats / $ 10 obstructed view and can be purchased by calling (973) 655-2378 or e-mailing email@example.com.
**admin note: No box office here – sales are being run through the museum, so be patient and make your plans now!
•It’s a can’t-miss Jersey experience, so get your tickets now! Gates open at 5 p.m.- concert from 6-8 p.m.
•All tickets are tax deductible and benefit the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center. Tickets are non-refundable – rain date July 10th.
NOT A PERFORMANCE OF, NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE SHOW JERSEY BOYS
Category: The MUSIC
I have to say that I love the Motown, but I really enjoy the top of the show, the opener that we have, because I think the thing that we really wanted to focus on was not only paying homage to the 60’s music, but paying homage to the very style of the groups of the sixties. Like taking the moves that they would do and making it our own, yet being as nostalgic as we could to keep that time warp kind of factor and edge in our show. And I just love those old groups … when Smokey Robinson would be singing the lead, and then the Miracles would be behind him doing their shinding behind him. And when we get the opportunity to do that throughout the piece, three guys behind a lead – there’ just something about that I just have so much fun with.