Archive for October, 2011
So…as you may remember from Oh What A Weekend, Part 1, I was in Birmingham with my niece and Atlanta “girls”, having just listened in on The Midtown Men’s sound check. And of course, to us, they sounded perfect! Now, still on our high from that amazing experience, we went in search of a quick bite to eat and got back just in time for the opening number.
This show at the Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center was my fourth time seeing The Midtown Men. And I can honestly say that the excitement hadn’t diminished one little bit. From the opening curtain to the final notes of “Bye, Bye, Baby”, I was entranced. I clapped, I sang, I laughed, I danced…but I didn’t miss what was going on in the audience around me…
…A young girl, a teenager, was with her mother in the row in front of us. She knew every word to every song, and she didn’t stop smiling throughout the entire show…
…A burly, middle-aged man sat next to his dancing-in-her-seat, singing, clapping wife, and I thought, “Oh, no, he’s not happy.” Then I could sense a change in him. He realized that he knew these songs, yes, he LIKED these songs. He began to sing every song, and before long was clapping as wildly as his wife…
…A young woman in the front row with her mother was mesmerized. I could tell that this show meant a lot to her and she enjoyed every moment of it. I later ran into her in the lobby and learned that she had met Bobby Spencer after seeing him in ”Next to Normal” on Broadway, and was blown away by his performance. She saw on his Facebook page that he had “landed in Birmingham”, and rushed to find out why. She is now not only a J. Robert Spencer fan, but a Midtown Men fan forever…
…A woman in the front row was beyond ecstatic – clapping and dancing and giving many ovations. We learned half way through the show that The Men had met her (among a few others in attendance) on the airplane and invited them to come to the show. Well, they came, alright, and they had a ball…
…A gaggle of college girls laughed and giggled and hooted throughout the show…what good taste they have at such an early age…
…And there we were, all but my niece had the great fortune of meeting these Men when they were still together on Broadway, and we fell in love with them, with their sound, their talents, their kindness and genuineness. And we are so grateful that we have the opportunity to share in this “second life” that they have made together and that they so joyously share with all the fans.
And of course, after the show, the Men were there, signing autographs, shaking hands, smiling and laughing and making every single person feel as if he were the only person in the room. They have that gift, and it doesn’t go unnoticed by the hundreds of new fans they make at each and every show.
Thank you, my friends, for making that day and night in Birmingham an awesome experience that I will think of fondly for a long time to come.
In my next installment, I follow The Midtown Men to Macon – another day, another show, a completely different experience (a good one, of course!)
By Punch Shaw
Special to DFW.com
Posted 11:24pm on Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011
FORT WORTH – Broadway has been proudly wearing its rock ‘n’ roll shoes for several years now, with efforts ranging from a slew of jukebox musicals to Green Day’s ambitious American Idiot.
The Midtown Men, a quartet that emerged from one of those greatest-hits shows, Jersey Boys, came to Bass Hall on Wednesday night to deliver an extremely slick evening of early ’60s rock nostalgia.
With their dark suits, skinny red ties, tight harmonies and highly choreographed dance steps, the group looked a bit like a Kennedy-era version of N’Sync as they smoothly glided through a 90-minute set of early rock immortals from Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (the band celebrated in Jersey Boys) and a long list of other greats from roughly 1960 through 1966.
The group — Michael Longoria, J. Robert Spencer, Daniel Reichard and Christian Hoff — was at its best with midtempo pop numbers that feature strong harmonies, such as California Dreamin’ and all the tunes in a long Beach Boys medley that started with I Get Around and ended with Sloop John B. And of course the Four Seasons songs that the group sang on Broadway for years also went over well. But surprisingly, the best of that bunch was Candy Girl, which they did not perform in Jersey Boys.
Longoria, who had played Valli in the musical, was impressive while imitating a voice that cannot really be imitated. And in addition to doing more than justice to his Four Seasons numbers and those that do not require falsetto, he also did a brief (but hilarious) impersonation of the actor Joe Pesci. But Longoria was not the whole show. All four singers, who were backed by a seven-piece band, took leads at various times and passed their auditions…
…Overall, the show, played before a crowd of about 1,300, had plenty of energy and glowed with a love of its material. It was a well-crafted evening of nostalgia…
SOUND CHECK, BIRMINGHAM
It was wonderful to see Christian, Michael, Daniel and Bobby again. My usual four month interval between shows had stretched to six, and I really needed a ‘fix’. The Men were gracious enough to allow us to attend the sound check…blogging does have its privileges…and it didn’t take long to realize that we were in for a serious treat.
The sound check lasted about an hour, and through it all, it was quite apparent that the camaraderie we see between these guys during the show is the real thing. And it is such fun to watch! It is also apparent that The Midtown Men love what they are doing, and it definitely translates to their performance!
Step out in ’60s style for Grand Opera House fundraiser
LAURA SHIRLEY, The Telegraph
What happens when the Rat Pack meets Motown? Middle Georgians will get a chance to find out as The Midtown Men spend “One Grand Night” at the Grand Opera House on Saturday.
The concert by the four stars from the original cast of the Broadway hit “Jersey Boys” and the gala reception and silent auction afterward will benefit the Grand as its operators seek to make repairs and upgrades throughout the theater.
“We’re trying to start an annual event based on what we do best: present shows,” said Betsy Fitzgerald, the Grand’s executive director. “The opera house is a big part of the community in Macon and the whole region, and we need ‘stuff.’ Certainly when it was built in the 1880s, the number of women’s bathrooms that we need now wasn’t thought of; last year we had a catastrophic event with one lighting system, and we have another that’s on borrowed time. We are trying to stay away from starting a capital campaign and are instead trying to raise money with a focus on having a good time.”
And a good time is guaranteed as the Midtown Men perform 1960s classics such as “Happy Together,” “California Dreamin’,” “Up on the Roof,” “Sherry” and more, as well as some by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons that the group performed in “Jersey Boys.”
“This music is so multi-generational. We have 10-year-olds come to the shows and know every word to every song. You can’t be American and not know them from the radio, theme parks, weddings. The energy of the music is infectious, uplifting and sincere — I think that’s an important word to describe it,” performer Daniel Reichard said, adding that the show tells a story of what would happen behind the scenes at a Broadway show like “Jersey Boys.”
Between songs, the performers — Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Reichard and J. Robert Spencer — tell true stories about funny things that happened to them and allow the audience to learn about the show from their points of view.
“We just clown around and have fun and make people feel happy,” Reichard said.
Audience members will get to mingle with the performers at the reception after the show.
The silent auction will feature retro luxury items such as a martini kit or a special evening out, and guests are invited to dress in the style of the era, as seen in the fashion of the television show “Mad Men.”
“The ’60s thing is really happening right now. It seems to be really good timing with what we’re doing,” Reichard said of the group’s reuniting. “It feels like we’re in the beginning of something big.”
“One Grand Night”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Grand Opera House, 651 Mulberry St.
Cost: $50 concert only; $75 concert and gala reception.
The Midtown Men enjoyed another whirlwind week of thrilling audiences across PA, NY and NJ! Fans old and new flocked to fill theatres in six cities in eight days. But there’s little rest for the weary…The Men are headed back south again. Don’t miss your opportunity to see them – at one or more of these shows!
Great seats are still available for this weekend’s shows:
Friday, October 21st at 7:30 – Leslie Stephen Wright Fine Arts Center, Birmingham, Alabama. Click here for ticket information;
Saturday, October 22nd at 7:30 - The Grand Opera House in Macon, Georgia. Click here for ticket information.
And then it’s back to Texas, where they have obviously made quite an impression. You’ll have to act fast to find a seat at these shows:
Wednesday, October 26th at 7:30 – Bass Performance Hall in Ft. Worth, Texas. Click here for ticket information.
Thursday, October 27th at 8:00 – Eisemann Center for Performing Arts, Richardson, Texas. Click here for ticket information.
Kristie Rearick of the Gloucester County Times recently spoke on the telephone with Michael Longoria of The Midtown Men. Here are some excerpts from her article, “‘The Midtown Men’ to sing oldies in Vineland”, which was published October 14, 2011.
“After Michael Longoria took over the role of Frankie Valli in “Jersey Boys,” it occurred to him and his fellow castmates that they had a good thing going.
“We started getting asked to do private events and parties,” Longoria said.
The foursome knew the songs of The Four Seasons inside and out, but for their appearances, they wanted to sing other songs from that time period, too.
“We would learn a Temptations’ song or a Jackson 5 song,” he said in a phone interview. “And before we knew it, we had a show.”
…After leaving the musical, the guys went their separate ways. Longoria worked for Cirque du Soliel, and the other guys were in shows such as “Next to Normal” and “Candide.” But anytime they had a chance, they would perform as “The Midtown Men” singing hits from The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and The Papas and, of course, The Four Seasons…
…Longoria is not really a Jersey boy at all. Born and raised in Hollywood, Calif., the entertainer grew up singing alongside his mother, who was a singer in a band. He loved hanging out with his mom’s musician friends, learning the ropes, he said.
“My mom always says before I formed a sentence I was singing. There’s not a day I can remember that I didn’t sing,” Longoria said…
…For his show with “The Midtown Men” in Vineland, Longoria promised that audiences of any age will have a good time.
“Just the other day I saw a 9-year-old singing every lyric, dancing alongside his mom, and right next to her was his grandmom,” Longoria said. “This is definitely a show that speaks to every generation. It’s a really fun night.”
“The Midtown Men” will perform at Cumberland County College’s Guaracini Performing Arts Center in Vineland, Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35 and $50 and can be purchased at the theater’s box office (open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays.) Call the box office at 856-692-8499 for tickets or more information. To look at a seating chart visit, cccnj.edu/fpac. For more information about the group visit The Midtown Men’s website.
To read the article in it’s entirety, click here.
The Men are headed back to the Northeast for six concerts between PA, NY and NJ. Check out their concert calendar to find a date near you!
Nippertown.com, the site for “Arts and Entertainment in the Capital District, Berkshires and Hudson Valley” is giving away a pair of tickets to the Sunday, October 9 Midtown Men concert at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. All you have to do is post a comment to their article…(click below)