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