Attend any Midtown Men concert and it’s hard to miss the first-rate, 7-piece band that plays with them each night. Three of these band members – one saxophone player, one trumpet player, and one trombone player – are known collectively as the Worldwide Horns. The recipe is simple: three handsome guys, shiny brass instruments, crisp black clothing, and smooth choreography. The not-so-secret ingredients are mega musical talent and considerable chemistry. Taken together, it is easy to see why Greg Riley, Jay Webb, and Paul Arbogast have become an expected, not to mention highly anticipated, part of the landscape of any TMM concert. We thought it would be fun to get to know these three a little bit better, and learn more about the Midtown Men experience through their eyes. Sit back and enjoy as we meet the Worldwide Horns.
How long have you been with TMM?
GR: I have been with them since their first show together in Atlantic City.
JW: I have been subbing with them since the beginning and fully with the band by the end of year 1.
PA: Like Greg, I played the very first show to which Michael, Christian, Daniel, and Bobby decided to add a horn section. March 20th, 2010, at Caesars in Atlantic City, NJ was our first gig with them.
How did you first get connected with the guys?
GR: I had been subbing with Frankie Valli’s band for years, off and on, and when the guys were looking for a horn section to play their first show, they asked Frankie’s music director for recommendations.
JW: I had subbed in Frankie Valli’s band years before, in Atlantic City. When Christian, Michael, Daniel and Bobby were forming the group and looking for a trumpet player, a good friend of mine got the job, and when he left, I was fortunate enough to be able to take over.
PA: Similar to the way Greg got involved, I was recommended by Frankie Valli’s tour manager, along with another Philly-area trombonist. Fortunately, my friend who was the first TMM trumpet player interjected with “oh, you definitely want to call Paul first,” and the rest is history.
After almost 7 years on the road together, what can you tell us about the experience, and TMM?
GR: No one knew what it would end up being when it started.
JW: Just the closeness of the band, and the way that we have all become good friends.
PA: All of the people that have played in the band have been a pleasure to get to know. Professionally, the level of musicianship is part of what has made it a continuous pleasure to perform. On the personal side, it’s been terrific to meet and come to know a bunch of really funny, interesting, and talented souls. And the fact that the stars of the show don’t avoid us, but rather engage with the band and embrace our friendship makes it feel like family. All of the guys have become spare uncles to my 15 month old daughter. We have all shared our difficult moments, our vulnerable moments, and our triumphs. The current vibe of the tour is kind and supportive.
What is your current favorite Midtown Men song to play?
GR: I enjoy the challenge of the flute solo in In My Life
JW: Get Together or Got to Get You Into My Life
PA: Daniel’s tune, “Get Together”. The voicings and harmonies Jesse Vargas wrote for the horns are particularly beautiful to play, and the song has a great message.
Best part about touring?
JW: The best parts for me are getting to do what I love, travel all over and see the world, and meet so many wonderful people.
PA: I suppose I have traveled to many places that most people would never think it worth traveling to, but I think that has ended up being one of the best elements of touring, just because of how much it has affected my perspective about people who are different than me. I believe it’s the fundamental thing people in our divided country need: to travel! I have really learned to appreciate the variety in how people do life. It can be starkly different from state-to-state. [And even beyond] the differences in the US; try going straight from let’s say rural Veracruz to Oslo and see the different and beautiful and valid ways they are doing life. It’s an incredible education!
GR: I don’t really love the touring aspect, to be honest. I would rather be home, in my routine, doing my thing. But I have accepted touring as part of the gig, and have made my peace with it.
PA: Not being able to take the people I love with me everywhere to share the awesome experience.
Can you tell us a funny story from the road?
GR: We were in South Dakota walking through town after a show and the Mayor of the city stopped us for a photograph. He hadn’t been to the show and didn’t know who we were, but said “I knew you weren’t from around here because of the way you’re dressed.
JW: I was in a car with another band member, who shall remain nameless, driving through Florida. We were pulled over for driving too slow! We haven’t let him forget about that.
Can you guys tell us some of the highlights from your 7 years with the Midtown Men?
All: There have been so many…playing in front of national audiences on the Today Show and Good Morning America were definitely memorable. Also, just meeting so many people all over the country, and the opportunities that has created.
The Midtown Men had the crowd on their feet last night in Redding, CA – the first of three California shows this weekend!
As if Bobby wasn’t busy enough touring with the Midtown Men, he is always keeping busy with other theater projects. Longtime Jersey Boys and TMM friend Pam Singer was in the audience when Bobby took the stage in New York City this past weekend. She was kind enough to share her thoughts about the experience:
“Lest anyone think Bobby Spencer is simply the fantastic singer, dancer and Midtown Man one sees on stage, think again. Bobby is an amazing actor whose voice, expression, demeanor and body language truly make a character come alive. Case in point: ‘Breaking The Shakespeare Code’, a 2 person character study that Bobby and Erikka Walsh brought to life in an intimate reading this week. Those of us fortunate enough to be there witnessed a thrilling 80 minutes of cascading emotions and crackling chemistry. There’s a reason this man is a Tony nominated Broadway actor! He’s got talent to burn. A lovely reception followed the reading, and as always, it was great to chat with Bobby. Look forward to seeing him and the other Men again soon.”
Doreen and Frank Capasso were also in the audience and added these thoughts: “The play itself was brilliantly written; it leaps through time without leaving anything out. Bobby really puts his heart and soul into everything he does; we all see it when he performs with the Midtown Men but the outside projects he chooses really showcase a different side of his talent. His acting was out of this world!”
Congratulations Bobby! We can’t wait to see what you do next!
When: September 18, 2016, 7:00pm
Where: Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette, New York, NY
What: Michael Longoria’s solo concert, Broadway Brick By Brick
From Joe’s Pub: Back by popular demand! Michael Longoria returns after his Joe’s Pub debut with a concert celebrating his solo Broadway album, “BROADWAY BRICK BY BRICK”. The album features twelve Broadway classics including selections from The Wiz, West Side Story, The Sound Of Music, Jersey Boys, A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard, Mamma Mia, Song And Dance, Company, The Wizard of Oz, and Pippin. Michael will perform the album in its entirety and share the stories behind the songs that inspired a child Mariachi singer to dream big and, at the age of seventeen, set out for a new life on the stages of New York City.
Michael’s May 2016 debut at Joe’s Pub was a special experience that included many long-time TMM fans and friends in the audience. If you live in or around NYC, don’t miss this opportunity to get to know Michael better as a performing artist, and as a person. The music will come to life even more after you hear the stories behind the songs he chose, and don’t we all love an opportunity to hear more from one of our Men?
Click to order tickets.
Click to order the CD.
See you there!
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!”
This past Thursday, Michael Longoria was joined onstage by a few dozen NYC and Broadway talents to present a concert benefitting New Alternatives, an organization that helps homeless LGBT youth in New York. Michael and his very funny co-host, Ashley Austin Morris (The Electric Company) had an easy chemistry and kept the show moving, telling jokes and introducing each singer.
It was an absolutely electric evening, with each performer delivering heartfelt performances. The atmosphere was relaxed and intimate, with a vibe of friendship, love and support.
Michael opened the show with a really beautiful acappella version of “Imagine” by the Beatles. It set the perfect tone for an evening devoted to the homeless youth of New Alternatives. He then introduced Ashley, who got the audience laughing and ready to have a good time.
As advertised, the vocalists were talented beyond belief. With each performer, it seemed, the audience’s collective jaw dropped even lower. Songs were eclectic, from many genres, including pop, jazz, rock, and Broadway. There were even a few singer/songwriters who performed original work. I really enjoyed being introduced to some new artists that I hadn’t heard before.
As the evening went on, instead of waning, the energy actually increased. The final few performers were very well known to the audience, including Diana DeGarmo and Constantine Maroulis of American Idol fame, as well as Felicia Finley (Broadway) and Christina Bianco (Impressionist, Off-Broadway). We were all waiting for the “Broadway Diva” who would be making a special, unadvertised appearance at the concert. When Tony Award winner Alice Ripley (Sideshow, Next to Normal) took the stage, the cheers were deafening. She sang a song from Next to Normal (“I Miss the Mountains”) and then paused to speak a bit about the way the Broadway community has responded to the recent act of violence in Orlando against the LGBT community. As I’m sure many of you know, Broadway for Orlando released an All-Star charity single benefitting the LGBT Center of Central Florida. With special permission from the song’s creators, Alice sang a solo version of that song for us, and brought the house down.
Although many of us may have initially chosen to attend the concert for a variety of reasons, whether to support Michael, or hear some great music, the real reason we were there was always at the forefront. Coming together in solidarity to benefit those that the larger society may cast aside – the LGBT community in general, and the homeless LGBT youth of NYC in particular – was a powerful part of the evening. Thanks to Michael and his whole team for putting on a very fun and memorable event.
Fresh off the debut of his solo album, Michael is hosting a very special concert on June 23 to benefit homeless LGBT youth of New York City. New Alternatives is an organization that helps homeless LGBT youth become self-sufficient and transition out of the shelter system and into stable adult lives. The center — which provides services including case management, education, life-skills training, community-building recreational opportunities for self-expression and support services for HIV-positive youth — will be losing its donated space after August, and Longoria is hoping the benefit will raise money as well as awareness to keep the program afloat.
Michael is also quoted as saying, ““What happened in Orlando is just a reminder that no matter how much love we have, other sources of evil are always going to resist, so let’s find a way to get serious in a positive way that shows our support for each other and our love for each other in public”
In addition to Michael and his co-host, Ashley Austin Morris, featured performers and guests include: Constantine Maroulis, Diana DeGarmo, Daniel Reichard, Marty Thomas, Christina Bianco, Tori Scott, Ryan Raftery, Willito Rivera, Matthew Gagnon, Felicia Finley, Alexa Green, Ashanti J’aria, Danny Longoria, Tim Young, Jennifer Malenke, Michelle Dowdy, Cameron Mitchell Bell, Jennifer Bishop, Matthew Roscoe, Jenna Miller, Kristina Nicole Miller, Marissa Pontecorvo and Andrea Nardello.
Raffle items include:
Tickets to The Color Purple (Broadway)
Broadway Records Album Package
Bottle of Pinot by Tituss autographed by Tituss Burgess
Tickets to Fiddler on the Rood (Broadway)
Tickets to Kinky Boots (Broadway)
Tickets to Finding Neverland (Broadway)
Tickets to Himself and Nora (Off-Broadway)
Tickets to Trip of Love (Off-Broadway)
Tickets to Feinstein’s/54 Below
697 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Thursday June 23rd
$10 suggested donation
On June 12, 2016, our very own Christian Hoff hosted a Tony viewing party at NYC’s Palm West restaurant.
The elegant evening featured selections from the Palm’s menu, and wines by sponsor Santa Margherita. Guests enjoyed the Tony broadcast and generously participated in a Silent Auction throughout the evening. Christian eloquently shared his family’s experience as his daughter Ella and wife Melissa are thriving and surviving ALL leukemia and breast cancer. He also spoke of The V Foundation’s role in research, and how their work is truly changing the future of cancer diagnosis and outcomes.
A highlight of the evening was Christian signing his caricature on the Palm’s new Tony Wall, which also features Hugh Jackman, Jefferson Mays, and Ben Vereen among others. Said Hoff, “It was a distinct honor to celebrate the 70th annual Tony Awards at The Palm and kick off the 10th anniversary of my Tony Award by signing my caricature on the new Tony wall! The evening matched the broadcast’s sensitive and transforming celebration of Broadway’s best by raising awareness and thousands of dollars toward cancer research and patient care for The V Foundation. On behalf of my wife and daughter and millions of others battling this disease, thank you”
Several Midtown Club members were there to experience this special event and many thanks to Pat Palumbo and Catherine Sanneman for their hard work in organizing the event. Special thanks also to Robert Sanchez, Sales Manager at the Palm West, who states that “The partnership between The Palm and The V Foundation is just beginning and we vow to fight as long as the fight is necessary.”
On November 4th, 2016, The Midtown Men will be playing at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. Presale for TMM friends and fans begins TODAY, June 11. This is a week ahead of the public sale, beginning June 19th. This is an amazing chance to get the best seats in the house. Don’t miss this opportunity!
Click HERE for The Midtown Club pre-sale tickets.
**If any friends/fans in or around Escondido would be interested in being part of the TMM Street Crew, hanging posters to spread the word about the upcoming show, send an email to email@example.com and we’ll get you set up!