Archive for July, 2016
The Midtown Men are playing the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, NJ this weekend.
If you are nearby, don’t miss it! This is a nice article from The Press of Atlantic City including an interview with Michael.
by DAVID SPATZ
Artistic boredom can be an occupational hazard for any show’s cast who performs the same scenes with the same dialogue and the same music one night after another, one year after another.
Unless, of course, you’re one of the four members of the vocal group the Midtown Men. For six years, the quartet — who were the original stars of the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” — have toured with a show that usually opens and closes with the solid gold music of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, whose lives and early success are depicted in “Jersey Boys.”
In between the Four Seasons hits, though, the Midtown Men — Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria — stretch themselves out and cover the music of a variety of artists — male and female, groups and soloists — but never leave the comfortable music blanket of the 1960s.
Beyond the music of the Four Seasons, it’s difficult to predict what the Midtown Men will cover when they bring their show to the Golden Nugget 9 p.m. Saturday, July 16. During a recent concert, they sang the music of everyone from the Ronettes and the Mamas and the Papas to the Beatles, the Beach Boys, The Association and the Zombies.
And that’s just for starters. The Midtown Men have a dozen other artists within easy reach.
“As soon one of the guys gets bored with their solos, we just pick another song from the ’60s,” says Longoria, 35, who originated the role of Joe Pesci in “Jersey Boys” before taking over the part of Frankie Valli.
“That really goes to show you how awesome that music is. It’s music that’s all written by teenage lovers, right?” he adds. “It’s just a great thing to re-live again when we do the Midtown Men in concert.”
The Midtown Men is an outgrowth of their success on Broadway. But it wasn’t easy when the four actors decided to form a group, create their own show and use their connection to the popular Broadway musical to help sell tickets.
Lawsuits were traded by both sides — the Midtown Men and the creators of “Jersey Boys,” including Valli — until it was eventually agreed that Hoff, Reichard, Spencer and Longoria would be careful about how they used their “Jersey Boys” connection to promote their new venture.
For Longoria, getting plucked from the cast of the 1960s musical “Hairspray” — where he made his Broadway debut — and becoming part of a show that would quickly become a staple of the Great White Way, was the culmination of hard work and dreams.
Longoria attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. After graduating, he needed to find a “survival job” that would pay the bills while he auditioned for acting gigs. He waited tables at Ellen’s Stardust Diner in Times Square, where the singing servers are expected to prepare a repertoire of songs from the 1950s and ’60s.
“It became a great training ground because one of my first auditions for Broadway was for ‘Hairspray,’ which is all about the 1960s,” he says. “So I went in there and sang ‘Runaround Sue,’ and it was a (musical) style I became very comfortable with it.
Then came “Jersey Boys,” and while Longoria wasn’t very familiar with Valli, he certainly knew songs like “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry.”
“So there were another several years of me singing in that (1960s) genre,” he says. By the time the Midtown Men were created in 2010, Longoria felt it was just another “natural career progression” to branch out and learn about the music of other 1960s pop artists.
As excited as Longoria was to land the role of Pesci in “Jersey Boys” — before he got into acting, Pesci was a friend of Valli’s — he says it was “amazing” the night Valli came in to see the show when he was being considered to take over the Valli part.
“(Valli) was very supportive of me,” he says. “Before I got the approval to take the part, he had to see me do it. And I remember he came backstage and pinched my cheeks after the show and said, ‘You were ‘effing’ sensational,’ only he didn’t say ‘effing.’ That was him telling me from the bottom of his heart that he really connected with my performance. And that’s all I needed to hear from him to know that anything I did up there, he was going to be cool with.”
THE MIDTOWN MEN
When: 9 p.m. Saturday, July 16
Where: The Grand, Golden Nugget, Huron Avenue and Brigantine Boulevard, Atlantic City
How much: $35 and $50, available through Ticketmaster.com
The guys have been wanting to play Sun Valley, Idaho since their first year of touring. They said it was “another special evening for us together” and well worth the wait. We can see why!
The Midtown Men—’Happy Together’ In The ‘60s
BY KAREN BOSSICK (Eye on Sun Valley)
They started off as actors on Broadway. And they parlayed that into a rock and roll band that has taken them to stages across the country.
The Midtown Men—part of the original cast of the smash hit “Jersey Boys”–will perform at Sun Valley Pavilion at 8 p.m. Sunday, July 3. Tickets start at $35 and are available at www.sunvalley.com or by calling 208-622-2135.
The boys in their Rat Pack-inspired suits will deliver a high-octane blast from the past as they sing their way through a hit parade of songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Turtles, Mamas and Papas and Motown.
“I wasn’t even born when these songs came out but I grew up listening to them,” said Midtown Men member Daniel Reichard. “It’s music that’s so appealing, so intoxicating, so energizing. They’re songs you can relate to, songs that light your heart up, songs that make you happy to be alive.”
Reichard a native of Cleveland, Ohio, played Candide for Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” at the New York City Opera. He was with the original coast of “Forbidden Broadway: 20th Anniversary Celebration.” And he played Emmet in the world premiere of Jim Henson’s “Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas” at the Goodspeed Opera House.
It was the role he created of Four Seasons songwriter Bob Gaudio for “Jersey Boys” that launched him as a rock and roller.
“Bob will go down as one of the 1960s’ greatest songwriters,” Reichard said. “He wrote musically catchy and heartfelt hits like ‘Sherry,’ ‘Big Girls Don’ Cry,’ ‘Walk Like a Man,’ ‘Big Man in Town,’ ‘Rag Doll’ and ‘Dawn Go Away.’ He and Bob Crewe wrote ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.’ Once you get songs like that in your head, they’re always in your head.”
Reichard and his comrades—Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria and J. Robert Spencer—went five seasons starring in a thousand-plus performances as they portrayed the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in what became one of Broadway’s biggest hits of all time.
Reichard said it was great to tell a story about a group of musicians that wasn’t well known.
“We enjoyed it so much, and then the invitations to perform began pouring in…all of a sudden we realized we had a show by accident,” he said. “We thought: Why not take it on the road and see what it’s like to become a rock and roll band.”
The quartet began singing at casinos and fairs in 2010—they electrified an audience at the Utah State Fair three Septembers ago in pouring rain.
One night at New York City’s Beacon Theater they were even joined on stage by many of the legends of the ‘60s, including Petula Clark, who sang “Downtown,” The Shirelles, who sang “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” and Gene Cornish of The Young Rascals.
Their album “The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits” garnered five-star album reviews from iTunes. And they recorded their first radio single, “All Alone on Christmas,” with members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
“The idea of concert art appeals to me a lot,” said Reichard. “And who better to base a show around than Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. They have so much soulfulness. They’re macho yet they have so much emotional vulnerability. They provided four decades of recordings and Frankie’s still performing in concert.”
All of the guys would like to return to their theater roots, Reichard said. But they’d like to keep touring as The Midtown Men, as well.
“I love singing for people who love this music so much. I love singing music that lifts people’s spirits and is so satisfying,” he said. “The best case scenario would be to do both!”