Archive for May, 2012
This weekend, on June 2nd, The Midtown Men will be playing a show in Franklin, NC. At first glance, Franklin seems in the middle of nowhere, but according to the Google map, it’s in the middle of EVERYWHERE!
(A) Franklin is 30 minutes from (B) HIGHLANDS, NC; 45 minutes from (C)WAYNESVILLE, NC; 1-1/4 hours from (D) ASHEVILLE, NC; 1-1/2 hours from (E) HENDERSONVILLE, NC and (F) GATLINBURG, TN; 2 hours from (G) GREENVILLE, SC; and only 2-1/2 hours from (H) ATLANTA, GA, (I) KNOXVILLE, TN and (J) CHATTANOOGA, TN. Those trips sound like a breeze to me!
The first time I saw The Midtown Men in concert, I drove from Jacksonville, FL to Atlanta, GA – a five and a half hour trip. It was certainly worth the drive! Of course, I took my kids and some friends and we made a weekend of it – but the show was definitely the highlight!
My next trip was only a four and a half hour ride to Charleston, SC. Again with family and friends, and again, very well worth the drive.
So, how far would you drive to see The MEN? Or how far have you driven? We’d love to hear about it.
Click here to purchase your tickets to The Midtown Men at the Smoky Mountain Center For The Performing Arts, Saturday, June 2nd at 7:30 pm.
Looking for a Midtown Men fix this Memorial Day weekend? Head down to the Jersey Shore where you will find Michael Longoria performing with pal Joe Piscopo at Wildwoods Celebration of Heroes Festival.
The Wildwoods salute America’s military service men and women, veterans and first responders with a live concert, entertainment, sports events, activities and a USO Variety Show featuring Joe Piscopo and his 17-piece orchestra; Michael Longoria; Miss America 2012 and Lee Greenwood.
The show is Sunday, May 27th at 8:00 p.m. Visit Wildwoods website for more information.
Category: Michael Longoria
“Midtown Men rock the country, too.”
“Fresh” is an adjective I’ve used to describe The Midtown Men’s sound many times. It seems that Bruce Miller of the Sioux City Journal agrees. Another glowing review for our Midtown Men!
Article by Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal
All those years on Broadway have paid off for The Midtown Men.
When storms caused the sound to go out at their WinneVegas concert Saturday night, the four carried on and “California Dreamin’” sounded better than ever. Their unique harmonies and “show must go on” mindset served them well until power was restored and they could continue their high-energy, all-moving, all-singing, all-retro performance.
Stars of the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys,” Michael Longoria, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer were able to recreate the magic that has been packing theaters for more than a handful of years.
The show, though, wasn’t a ghost of “Jersey Boys.” It was the sequel fans have been looking for.
During the 90-minute-plus set, the four told about their lives on Broadway, detailed other shows they had been in and explained how this new incarnation emerged from noodling around backstage.
Eager to try their harmonies on other ’60s groups, they quickly found themselves singing Beatles, Mamas and Papas, Drifters and Motown songs. The result? A retro sound that spans much more than one band, one voice.
Saturday’s mix offered plenty of Four Seasons rivals. Hoff — who won a Tony for his work in “Jersey Boys” — led the Turtles’ “So Happy Together.” Reichard rocked the Beatles “Can’t Buy Me Love.” And Spencer gave new life to The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup.”
The surprise, though, was Longoria who sang Frankie Valli better than Frankie Valli. In song after song he was able to offer flourishes Valli never could. In the Broadway show, the four were held to a specific performance level. On their own, they’re able to kick it new style.
And that’s what makes Midtown Men more than just a cover band. This is a reimagining that should shine a new spotlight on old music.
The four danced throughout most of the songs, told cute stories and got their money’s worth from a seven-man band.
While it’s clear they got their start channeling The Four Seasons, it’s likely they’ll have a long life reviving others. They’re bright, fresh and highly talented.
Even better, they’ve got the kind of actor’s mentality that enables them to recreate themselves in song after song after song.
Saturday’s performance was ample proof.
“It was a testament from these four musical ambassadors — the uplifting power of truly great music performed by truly great talent never fades.”
This is what Midtown Men fans love to hear: a reporter who GETS IT, just as we do. Oh What A Night it was in Dubuque!
Midtown Men croon at the Mississippi Moon
The foursome treats 2 sold-out audiences to a nostalgic trip back to the hits of the 1960s.
BY MEGAN GLOSS, Telegraph Herald staff writer
It was a night of sweet nostalgia and a groove down memory lane as the soaring sounds of four-part harmony, ’60s-styled, filled every crevice of the Mississippi Moon Bar on Friday, sending chills through the crowd.
The Midtown Men reunites the four original stars from Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” — Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer — who performed alongside one another for more than 1,000 shows on Broadway. The hit juke-box musical opened in 2005 and won four Tony Awards, including Best Musical.
While the show told the story of The Four Seasons and heavily featured the music of the famed quartet, The Midtown Men’s performance — now in its second year of touring the country — served as a musical smorgasbord of ’60s vocal groups, with a sprinkle of casual humor, favorite memories from “Jersey Boys” and stories of their most recent stints on the road.
The audience was made up primarily of those who grew up with the music of the ’60s.
From the show’s opening medley, “Let’s Hang On,” “Working My Way Back to You” and “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” to soul-inspired Motown renditions and the sing-along encore, “Oh, What a Night,” the four singers effortlessly transitioned from tune to tune, letting their voices and tight harmonization bask in the warm glow of the limelight.
“During ‘Jersey Boys,’ we naturally fell in love with the greatest decade of music,” Spencer said, accompanied by bursts of cheers and applause. “Back stage, in the dressing room, we started working out the harmonies to our favorite groups from the ’60s until it gave birth to a show of our own. We’re having the time of our lives.”
The foursome really shined on The Four Seasons selections, “Dawn,” “Candy Girl,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry,” each featuring Longoria’s high soaring vocals, channeling Frankie Valli. His voice also was well-suited for a young Michael Jackson on the Jackson 5 hit, “I Want You Back.”
Patrons treated the group to a standing ovation and were singing in the aisles after the show, grinning from ear to ear.
It was a testament from these four musical ambassadors — the uplifting power of truly great music performed by truly great talent never fades.
‘Jersey Boys’ into ‘The Midtown Men,’ that is.”
Article by Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal
Asked to sing at the former CBS anchor’s 50th birthday party, four members of the original cast of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” liked the experience and, says Christian Hoff, the idea of becoming a group “just snowballed from there.”
The four booked several concerts, liked the reaction and figured life as The Midtown Men “would be a side gig until our next Broadway shows,” Hoff says. “But what we set in motion was bigger than we ever expected.”
Now, Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria are so busy they’ve got concert engagements into 2013.
“What we’re doing is eclipsing our experience in ‘Jersey Boys’ — if that was at all possible. We’re living out a dream.”
All four sang as teenagers; two were in bands. Then Broadway entered their lives and acting looked like the chosen profession.
They met in the original cast of “Jersey Boys,” the musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Hoff played Tommy DeVito, Reichard played Bob Gaudio and Spencer played Nick Massi. Longoria was originally cast as Joe Pesci, then played Frankie Valli after John Lloyd Young left.
The four played around with other ’60s music during the run of the show. They liked what they heard and decided it would be fun to cover hits from some of the Four Seasons’ competition. The result? A catalog that includes the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Ike and Tina Turner, the Turtles, the Rascals, the Righteous Brothers — you name it.
“We made a choice to do less than 40 percent of our set from either the ‘Jersey Boys’ or Frankie Valli,” Hoff says. “Jersey Boys” producers were concerned they were going to do a Frankie Valli-lite version of the show.
“When the dust settled, they realized this was very different from ‘Jersey Boys.’ The only thing that tied us together was that we were in the show.”
Now, with a CD to their credit, the four are making a name for themselves in a different arena.
“It’s very surreal,” Hoff says. “We’re living out a life and a lifestyle that we once portrayed. You’re entertaining from your toes. You’re not portraying another person.”
People identify with them — not their characters — “and there’s no way to describe that. It’s an entertainer’s dream to live in the moment. It’s connecting to the music, yourself and the story of the song. You use your own life experience as the inspiration.”
While all four have had acting offers (can anyone say “Smash”?), they’ve had to put those opportunities on hold while they pursue this option.
Acting, Hoff says, will definitely be a part of their lives. “I’m very excited about the weight and experience this is giving me in my creative soul. These experiences are shaping my character.”
The Midtown Men’s future will definitely include original music. “We’re breathing new life into old music. What we’d like to do next is put our old sound on new music.”
Classics from the 1950s and 1960s, he says, have influenced artists like Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Adele. Competition shows are filled with young singers performing covers. “The music is still alive and well, whether you know it or not,” Hoff says.
And “Jersey Boys”? It keeps chugging along. In addition to selling out on tour, it’s still running on Broadway. Young, in fact, has agreed to return to the show.
Hoff, however, doubts any of the Midtown Men will follow his lead. “My gut instinct, as a group, is that’s a position we’ve outgrown. The phenomenon of ‘Jersey Boys’ lives on in a parallel universe.”
Interestingly, Hoff has never seen the show since leaving it.
“When I left ‘Jersey Boys’ I had been in the shoes of my character for 10 percent of my life — I was 40 and it was four years of my life. To relive it would almost be like trying to time travel.”
The show? It was more than just another job for Hoff. He was involved in its birth in La Jolla, Calif.
The show was tailored to the actors’ talents. And Hoff’s character? He became the heart and soul of the story. The actor earned a Tony nomination for the work — his first Broadway role in 10 years — and viewed the experience as something pretty magical.
The Tony nomination, he says, was validation he had accomplished “what I was called to do.”
The day of the Tony Awards was as hectic as show business gets. In the morning, Hoff and company rehearsed at Radio City Music Hall. In the afternoon they performed a matinee. At night, they did the red carpet, performed on the show and sat in the audience waiting to hear whose name would be called.
Hoff braced himself “and five minutes later I was on stage and the crowd was on its feet. It was so surreal…but it was a triumph for all of us.”
The Best Featured Actor in a Musical trophy sits on his mantel, a tribute to a perfect experience.
Now, Hoff says, there’s a new challenge, a new venture.
“When we started, we weren’t sure if this would have legs,” he says of The Midtown Men. “Now, we’re watching it becoming a phenomenon. We’re not just the talent. We’re the producers, the directors, the choreographers and we’re in control.
“With that control comes responsibility, but we’re ready for it.
“It was a dream of mine to be in a band. Now,” he says, “I’m living the dream.”
The Midtown Men will play Winnavegas Casino at 8 p.m. on May 19. Tickets are $20 in advance, $40 day of show. For more information, call Winnavegas, 1-800-468-9466.
The Midtown Men made American musical theater history in the Original Broadway Cast Of Jersey Boys, and midtown man Christian Hoff charted the course with fellow stars-on-the-rise Alice Ripley, Michael Cerveris and Norm Lewis in Broadway’s The Who’s TOMMY.
Click here to check out broadwayworld.com’s 2012 Tony Awards Countdown.
‘Pinball Wizard’ has been on my mind recently after hearing it several times on the radio in the last week. Each time I hear it, I am transported back to the August Wilson Theatre, December, 2008. No, not Jersey Boys, but my “other” top Broadway experience – Christian Hoff and Donnie Kehr (along with the entire original cast) seriously rocking that song and blowing away every person in that packed house during Rockers on Broadway’s The Who’s TOMMY reunion concert. What an unbelievable experience that show was!
I’ve been imagining Christian Hoff rocking out ‘Pinball Wizard’ once again, only this time accompanied by Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer. How cool would that be?!?
Have you been imagining The Midtown Men performing a favorite song of yours as well? If so, let’s hear about it. I’ll send a Midtown Club souvenir to the people who post the songs and/or stories I like best!
‘Pinball Wizard’ was performed on Glee recently – click to listen.
Congratulations to Barbara Gandy! Barbara had the most correct answers on the latest 60s music quiz. Enjoy your Midtown Men tote, Barbara!!
Here are the answers:
The Four Seasons hit ‘Sherry’ was #3 for the year 1962, and spent 16 weeks on the charts – five of them at #1. (“Big Girls Don’t Cry also hit #1 in 1962 and also spent five weeks in the top position, so either answer was acceptable.)
“This kid could be the next (Michael) Bublé.” Joe Piscopo said this about Michael Longoria.
In 1966, the Beach Boys released the iconic album Good Vibrations.
Four Seasons #1 hit ‘Sherry’ was originally titled ‘Jackie Baby’, in honor of Jackie Kennedy.
In the name “Booker T & The M.G.’s”, the M.G. stands for Memphis Group.
In 2007, Daniel Reichard did a hilarious rendition of the Biz Markie rap song ‘Just A Friend’.
‘Marlena’ was the B-side to ‘Candy Girl’.
Patti LaBelle sang with the 1960’s girl group ‘The Bluebelles’.
Christian Hoff was up against, and beat out, Jim Dale for both the “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” Tony award in 2006, and the world record for “Most Character Voices in an Audio Book” for Tell Me How You Love the Picture.
Billy Fury had hits in the 1960’s with ‘Jealousy’, ‘Halfway to Paradise’, and ‘Like I’ve Never Been Gone’?
J. Robert Spencer lists Improv Olympic – Stand Up on his resumé.
‘Candy Girl’ was the first Four Seasons single NOT composed by either Bob Gaudio or Bob Crewe.