Sharing Michael’s Broadway Journey, “Brick by Brick”

Catherine • April 14, 2016 • Comments (2)

by TMClub Correspondent, Heather Powell

For the past six years, Michael Longoria has endeared himself to TMM audiences across the country as the “short, adorable tenor” who can “fit in your purse.” We’ve loved his soaring falsetto, antics on stage, and warm greetings after shows. As a member of the Midtown Men, he is a talented, kind and genuine person in a group filled with talented, kind, and genuine guys. Now, he is stepping out on his own and releasing a solo album titled Broadway Brick By Brick. This album traces his journey from childhood to the present, as he attempts to rediscover the dreams that led him down the path to this moment. He generously invites us to share in that journey, and by doing so, we really get to know him as an individual.

Of course, those of us who love TMM and have been to their concerts know that Michael was born in Hollywood, started singing before he could talk, went to NYU, and joined the Broadway casts of Hairspray and Jersey Boys. These facts provide the most basic framework, but with this album, he opens his heart and uses classic Broadway songs to tell intimate stories from his past. He combines this creative structure with powerhouse vocals within gorgeous orchestrations. And the result is most amazing.

This past week, I was fortunate enough to preview the entire album and spend some time talking with Michael about it. I have loved Broadway and show tunes for decades; I have heard my share of compilation albums, and more covers than I can count. I can tell you that this album is so much more than that. This is not simply a “CD of Broadway songs” per se, but rather a very emotional story told through song. In fact, Michael’s life story could almost be a Broadway show itself, with a synopsis that might read something like this: 

‘There was once a small Mexican-American boy with immense talent and specific, improbable dreams of performing on Broadway. He faced unique challenges, but with some guardian angels and an intense work ethic, he triumphed and realized those dreams, ultimately starring in a hit Broadway show.’

Sharing Michael’s journey through these songs was very engaging, not only because of his story but also because the music took me on my own journey, back to the first time I fell in love with Broadway. As he says, “Music is a powerful expression of emotion.”

Through his music and our conversation, I learned a lot about the person that I have seen on stage so many times through the years. As I anticipated, he is open and honest, funny and kind, insightful and forthcoming. We shared some stories, some laughs, and at the end of the day, I can say that I know Michael better as a person and artist, largely because I have a better understanding of the experiences that shaped him.

But why create an album that is so personal? Sure, artists create art every day that presumably includes a part of their journey woven through throughout, but most often the personal sources of inspiration remain unknown to the audience. To come across someone willing to bare his soul and share so many details of his life with an audience is rare. To explain, Michael points to a lyric in “As If We Never Said Goodbye” and describes how “I came out to NYC alone, and because of that it kind of made me not want to let people get too close to me because I was used to living in my own world alone and surviving on my own. So the line ‘I don’t want to be alone…that’s all in the past’ really speaks to this moment now. (I’ve realized that) I don’t want to be an artist that nobody gets to know; I want to tell my truth. I want people to really (understand) my experience though my art. And I feel like this is the moment to do it. This is my time to get that out there finally and not be alone, and take that chance.”

Broadway music is the perfect choice to tell Michael’s story, as Broadway has been the dream all along. A self-described “theater geek” in his younger years, someone who just wanted to “sing songs and tap dance,” he is going back to his roots to reawaken that original dream. He says “The reason I came out here (to NYC) was to chase Broadway, so I wanted to have that representation on this album. I wanted it all to be Broadway because that’s really who I was when I came out here, and I think the best way to find myself again is to search for myself in those songs.”

To that end, Michael has chosen some Broadway classics that speak to his heart and represent significant times in life. He sets the stage for us in a little house in the Pomona Valley, California (“Home”). To capture what music sounded like to him when he was small, he sings the most unique and beautiful arrangement of “The Sound of Music” I’ve ever heard, with Latin vibes and some lyrics in Spanish that harken back to his days as a child mariachi singer. He was introduced to Broadway music at the age of 10, while eating his grandmother’s tamales on Christmas Eve. West Side Story was on television, and Tony was singing “Maria.” Enough said. The album then takes us through his adolescence, a time when he felt like the black sheep in his family (“Music and the Mirror”), as well as his move to NYC to attend NYU Tisch School of the Arts (“The Impossible Dream). We then experience his post-college days: paying his dues as a singing waiter (“Corner of the Sky”), earning his big break as a swing in the Broadway cast of Hairspray (“As If We Never Said Good-bye”), originating the role of Joe Pesci in Jersey Boys, and eventually taking over the starring role of Frankie Valli (“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”). He then takes us deeper as he explores his emotions surrounding the death of his beloved grandmother (“Tell Me on a Sunday”) and his past and present relationship with his parents (“Being Alive”), which were arguably the most emotional moments of the album. He also takes a moment to express his gratitude to those who helped guide him along the way (“Thank you for the Music”) before singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the perspective of someone who has triumphed in his goal of finding his true self. Yes, these are all very well known songs, but it would be a mistake for anyone to think that because of that, they know what this album sounds like. He says, “The goal was to not just sing these songs like they’ve been done in the past and will be done in the future, but to really take the perspective as if I’m the first person singing them and they’re about my life.” The end result, in my opinion, is wonderful, unique, and anything but predictable.

Michael has also had time over the last months to reflect on multiple meanings behind the songs. For example, he points to “As If We Never Said Goodbye” and how “I just love how it not only represents my time in Hairspray but how it also represents the experience with this CD. I’ve been away from Broadway for so long, touring all over with the Midtown Men, which has been amazing and (such a) great learning experience that I hope continues, but this is my moment to come back to Broadway. Not on the stage necessarily, but just back to my heart. Singing these songs and remembering the passion of that 17-year-old boy who came out here on his own, it helps me and motivates me to continue forward and to not just exist.”

Finally, I would be remiss to write this article without a commentary on Michael’s vocals. Of course, he has performed show-stopping solos with the Midtown Men, in city after city. But the songs on Broadway Brick by Brick allow us to access a range of his talent that 60’s music just can’t touch in the same way. If I had a nickel for every money note or amazing riff on this album, I would be very rich indeed. But in addition to those, it’s the softer, nuanced moments that have the most potential to rip your heart out. The beginnings of “Music and the Mirror,” “As If We Never Said Goodbye,” and “Tell Me on a Sunday,” for example, just communicate such clear emotion; it’s like he reaches out and grabs your heart and says, “Feel what I’m singing.” And you do.

This is a special album, and the artist who created it is pretty special as well. I hope you all take this opportunity to enjoy some classic Broadway songs in a new way, and in the process, get to know Michael better. Because to know him, is to love him.

“I hope people receive this album from my soul, and my heart. I want it to be something that is a true artistic expression of who I am.” -Michael Longoria, 2016

• Pre-order Broadway Brick By Brick by clicking here

• If you live near New York or Los Angeles, don’t miss Michael’s CD Release Concerts celebrating Broadway Brick By Brick:

  • NYC on May 2-3, 2016 at 9:30pm at Joe’s Pub. Click here for tickets
  • Los Angeles on June 7, 2016 at 8:00pm at Rockwell Table & Stage. Click here for tickets.

Category: Michael Longoria

2 comments on “Sharing Michael’s Broadway Journey, “Brick by Brick”

  1. Carol on said:

    Great article, I wish him much success with the album! Sound very intriguing.

  2. Lilly on said:

    What a beautiful story about a beautiful young man. I have always admired Michael – his energy, his friendliness, and of course his amazing voice. Thank you so much for giving us this glimpse inside “the man”.

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