Archive for October, 2013
BWW Interviews: The Original Cast of JERSEY BOYS Reconnects with Audiences, Music as Midtown Men
by Paul Batterson, BroadwayWorld Columbus
Christian Hoff has a record amount of voices inside his head. He holds a Guinness World’s Record for “Most Character Voices in an Audio Book” doing 241 separate voices in Tell Me How You Love the Picture, based on the career of movie producer Ed Feldman.
Hoff will be using his ability to sound like someone else when the Midtown Men perform a variety of hits from the Sixties with the Columbus Symphony 8 p.m. Nov. 9 at Ohio Theatre (55 East State St.).
“This tour is kind of blowing our minds,” Hoff says. “We’ve got this combination of symphony shows and private dates, galas and performing arts centers. It’s great to see the roof get blown off and that has a lot to do with our fans and audiences responses to the show.”
“It’s a crusade bringing people together around live music and theater. We love doing what we do. We want to see if we can take it to the next level. We want to reach the symphony crowd, which is a little older and more sophisticated, as well as their grandkids. To have two or three generations of fans listening to us is amazing.”
The Midtown Men consists of Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer, the original cast of JERSEY BOYS. Hoff won “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in the musical JERSEY BOYS in 2006. Spencer was nominated for a Tony in 2009 for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Dan Goodman in NEXT TO NORMAL.
Hoff and his former cast mates will share lead singer duties as they run through a gamut of classics from Motown to the British Invasion. Hoff will offer his take on Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of A Clown,” The Zombie’s “Time of the Season” and the Turtles’ “Happy Together.”
Columbus is one of a handful of stops where the Midtown Men will be accompanied by an orchestra. Hoff enjoys adding a lush sound to these Sixties staples.
“It’s such an amazing experience. Metaphorically (going from the simple arrangements to playing with an orchestra) is like rowing down a lazy river to going into the rapids.,” Hoff says. “We’ve taken our (versions) of this music and multiplied it by a talented, gifted orchestra like the Columbus Symphony.”
Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, some of the artists whom the Midtown Men emulate have been blown away by the quartet. It’s not uncommon to see some of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famers, like the Rascals’ guitarist Gene Cornish, join the fun when the Midtown Men roll into town. Tommy James, who wrote “Crimson & Clover,” I Think We’re Alone Now”, and “Mony, Mony,” called the band “the real deal” and Paul Anka, who penned “Diana,” “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” and “You’re Having My Baby,” said they were “superb. Bravo!”
“It’s one thing to enjoy what you do,” Hoff says. “But when it connects with the audience and gets that kind of feedback (from the original performers) … that’s what it is all about.”
One of their most famous encounters was with New Jersey legend Bruce Springsteen, who first checked out the four when they were in JERSEY BOYS. The quartet was invited to perform with the Boss, Elvis Costello and Dion at the Right 2 Rock concert honoring Springsteen guitarist Steven Van Zandt on Oct. 16, 2012 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
After Hurricane Sandy caused over $71 billion worth of damage to the New York and New Jersey 15 days later, Van Zandt helped the Midtown Men record a charity single, “All Alone for Christmas,” with all the profits going to the Red Cross. Van Zandt originally wrote the song for the movie “Home Alone 2″ but came up with a new arraignment for the Midtown Men. Van Zandt also played guitar and recruited members of the E Street Band to back up the quartet.
Hoff, a native of San Francisco, and his band mates saw the devastation and knew they had to do something.
“When something happens on your block, it is so much easier to be reminded of the impact,” Hoff says. “It’s like rooting for your local team. There’s an adrenaline that picks up inside your heart.
“New Jersey took me under its wing with the heart and soul of the people. It was a way for us to give back. Even though I don’t live there anymore, it’s still a big part of me. People say they left their heart in San Francisco. I left my mine in New Jersey.”
By Randy CordovaThe Republic | azcentral.comTue
Oct 22, 2013 10:20 AM
4 Broadway stars from ‘Boys’ now Midtown Men
“Jersey Boys” was a huge hit upon its opening on Broadway in 2005. The cast members who played the Four Seasons in the original production figured there was no reason to let the ’60s party end, so they formed the Midtown Men, a group that sings hits from the era.
“We were underdogs,” says Christian Hoff, who played Tommy DeVito in the show. “Four stars from a Broadway show don’t leave and form a full-time group. This was risky.”
“We had to leave other careers to do this,” Hoff continues. “We passed on TV, film and Broadway offers to do this. This isn’t a one-off; it’s a full-fledged band.”
Like a real singing group, there was an album, 2011’s “Sixties Hits,” which added tunes by the Beatles, the Turtles and Marvin Gaye to the group’s “Jersey Boys” repertoire. From the Broadway show, they inherited such favorites as “Let’s Hang On,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry.”
Also like a real band, the guys are are trying to figure out their place in the musical landscape. Hoff acknowledge there may not be a unified concept of what the Midtown Men is about.
“We are four individuals with four perspectives, and with that comes a lot of collaboration and a lot of struggle for vision about where we are going,” he says. “We were brought together randomly. It wasn’t like we were all singing together under a streetlamp. But with that background comes a great artistic and creative tension that translates to energy and excitement on the stage.”
But what does the future hold for the Midtown Men? Hoff thinks it’s full of potential.
“I’m excited about opportunities (ranging) from recording with some of the ’60s great icons or collaborating with ’60s writers on original material,” he says. “I think our chemistry and sound has more worlds to conquer. Instead of just singing ’60s music, our sound translates and transcends the genre. It’s not a tribute act. It’s not an oldies show.”
The four members all jointly own the Midtown Men brand, so collaboration and compromise are among the keys to key to survival.
“You learn how to finesse,” Hoff says. “You learn how to lose battles sometimes for the greater good. You can’t always be right and you can’t always get your way. You really need to learn to give and take. We’re four individuals but we’re on the same path.”
Still, you figure Hoff has a trump card. After all, he is the only member of the group to win a Tony Award for “Jersey Boys.” You’d think the trophy would add a little weight to his presence.
“I wear the Tony around my neck, like Flavor Flav,” Hoff jokes. “It’s very distracting for the people around me.”
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or 602-444-8849. Twitter.com/randy_cordova.
The Midtown Men … four original stars from the cast of “Jersey Boys” — take their sensational sound on the road for their third national tour. They join The Phoenix Symphony for a one-night-only performance at 7:30 p.m. tonight, Oct. 25, at Symphony Hall, 75 N. 2 St. in Phoenix.
Click here for tickets.
from the Ahwatukee Foothills News
Kudos to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra for choosing The Midtown Men to open their 2013-2014 Pops Series this past weekend at the beautiful Jacoby Symphony Hall. The Men were greeted with enthusiasm from a packed house both Friday and Saturday nights, and they did not disappoint! From the opening notes of “Let’s Hang On” to the closing of ”Bye Bye Baby,” Michael, Christian, Daniel and Bobby entertained with their wit, cool dance moves, infectious charm and most definitely their beautiful harmonies. Combine this with the smooth sound of Michael Krajewski’s orchestra, and sixties music never sounded so good!
Fans of all ages, from young…
to young at heart;
from new fans…
to Midtown Men die hards;
people came from near
to see their beloved Midtown Men!
If you have pictures from the Jacksonville shows that you would like to share, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Osiris Verge is the winner of a pair of tickets to see The Midtown Men as they perform with the Jacksonville Symphony. Congratulations, and enjoy the show!!
Thanks to all who participated. The correct answers are:
Symphony pops conductor Michael Krajewski is Principal Pops Conductor of the Houston, Atlanta and Jacksonville Symphony orchestras, and is much in demand as a guest conductor with orchestras throughout the United States and Canada.
The Midtown Men, Featuring Original JERSEY BOYS Cast Members, Announce Tour Dates
by BWW News Desk, October 17, 2013
The Midtown Men, Four Stars from the Original Broadway Cast of JERSEY BOYS, continue to gain momentum as they announce their fourth national tour. The group’s founding members, Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer, known for their lively versions of the greatest pop songs of the 1960s, will take their highly acclaimed talents to many of the nation’s most prestigious venues this season.
In addition to premier Performing Arts Centers across the country, the group’s fourth national tour will include 26 major symphony performances, most notably three appearances with the National Symphony at the Kennedy Center under the direction of renowned conductor Steven Reineke, as well as Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, and Nashville.
Among their growing legion of fans are some true icons of the 1960s, like rocker Tommy James who said recently, “The Midtown Men are the real deal: the thrill of sixties rock and roll and the magic of Broadway rolled into one dynamite package. You’re gonna love these guys!” Other 1960s legends seen cheering at recent concerts include Dion, Shirley Alston Reeves (lead singer of The Shirelles), Judy Craig (lead singer of the Chiffons), The Rascals’ Gene Cornish, Bobby Vee, Paul Anka, Darlene Love, legendary DJ “Cousin Brucie” Morrow, and the late Sid Bernstein, who first presented the Beatles in America.
Last season, The Midtown Men appeared together on Good Morning, America, Access Hollywood, ABC’s Katie, The Chew, and sang in front of 25,000 people at the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at the White House. Most notably, they collaborated with show business icon Stevie Van Zandt and members of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band on a Christmas single, “All Alone On Christmas,” with proceeds benefiting the American Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy Relief, which led to a performance in New York City alongside Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Tom Morello, Dion, and Darlene Love.
Upcoming NYC area shows include The State Theater in New Brunswick, NJ on Dec 5; The Tilles Center in Greenvale, NY on Dec 6 and NJPAC on April 25, 2014.
The Midtown Club is giving away a pair of tickets to see The Midtown Men in Jacksonville, Florida!
Simply fill in the blanks below (2) for your chance to see The Men October 18 or 19 as they open the Pops Series with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. (You must answer on the Club site to be eligible to win!)
Symphony pops conductor Michael Krajewski is Principal Pops Conductor of the __________, __________ and Jacksonville Symphony orchestras, and is much in demand as a guest conductor with orchestras throughout the United States and Canada.
Street Crew member Betsy S. was all set to spread the word about The Midtown Men concert at The Palace Theatre in Abany, NY on October 3rd. Imagine my surprise when she told me that she had received a call from the box office informing her that the show had to be postponed until February! The good news for us - Betsy was able to edit her flyers to reflect the new date, and is all set to paper the town in February.
The bad news for fans - apparently not everyone got the message of the show’s postponement! According to a very disappointed Facebook fan, “there were a lot of other disappointed concert goers outside the theater with us. None of us had seen anything about this online or in the local media.”
I wish I had thought to post something about the change, but it appeared as if the venue was doing a good job of spreading the word. Were you left out in the cold on October 3rd? If so, let us know - and we offer our sincere apologies for your inconvenience and disappointment!