Tag: 60′s songs
“Hot Fun In The Summertime” – Sly and the Family Stone – 1969
(#6 from the Summer Fun Quiz)
Category: Music Quiz
A new season for Midtown Men
Group that once portrayed Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito et al brings a more eclectic show to Costa Mesa.
By Rhea Mahbubani, dailypilot.com
The Midtown Men bicker all the way to the stage — as brothers might.
The singers could be arguing about which socks look best or which attorney to bring on board, and the next instant, they’re straightening ties or tossing towels to one another.
“No matter what, we huddle before every show and give thanks,” Christian Hoff said. “We encourage each other to go out there and have fun.”
The unlikely foursome came together almost by accident nearly 10 years ago — a number that they find hard to believe — as original members of the Broadway hit “Jersey Boys.”
As the Midtown Men, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Hoff, will take the spotlight at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. They will be accompanied by about 88 members of the Pacific Symphony.
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‘The Midtown Men’ bring retro sound, style to Rudder Auditorium
By ROB CLARK
theeagle.com / Bryan-College Station, Texas
The four performers — J. Robert Spencer, Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria and Daniel Reichard — shared the Jersey Boys stage on Broadway for more than 1,000 shows, telling the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The musical won the 2006 Tony Award for best musical, and the cast recording album won a Grammy.
Along the way, the quartet found interest from corporate and private events, separate from the Broadway stage.
“When we were done doing our three-and-a-half years on Broadway, we continued getting asked to do events,” Spencer says by phone from the group’s van, on the way to a recent Pennsylvania gig. “We just thought there’s a market for this. People know who we are, they know the relevance of who we are and what we originated on Broadway. … It was supposed to be a side gig, and it’s just blossomed organically into this very successful business.
That comes in the form of The Midtown Men, which MSC OPAS presents Thursday and Friday at Rudder Auditorium. It’s not a musical with a storyline, but a concert that features the quartet along with a seven-piece band. The show includes classic songs from the ’60s from such artists as Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys and The Mamas & the Papas. Spencer describes their take on The Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love as a “really cool, very horns-y, Vegas kind of arrangement.”
The singers will be decked out in dapper suits provided by sponsor Hugo Boss, which Spencer says adds to the nostalgic appeal.
“You add that flair to what we grew up being inspired by, not just the music but the presence of the 1960s, the entertainers of that era: Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin. Add that with dressing up in great-looking suits, singing the songs of the ’60s, it really combines an eclectic grouping of what and how we perceive the evening to be for these baby boomers. And for their children that they’re bringing to the shows, and their children’s children.”
For a taste, go to themidtownmen.com to see the group’s video for its cover of The Turtles’ Happy Together. It lands between the Rat Pack sensibility and The Beatles’ Hard Day’s Night silliness, with retro flavor of the era: dark suits, skinny ties, cocktails in hand, even a stickball street scene. Spencer says that vibe continues through The Midtown Men show.
“It’s the feel-good mentality,” Spencer says. “For that bit of time, you’re taken away and having a little bit of freedom from your day, whatever your day consisted of. … [The audience] is taking away really nice imagery of us onstage, and that combined with our love for each other and our love for what we do is very much resonant to how it was back in the ’60s with those iconic stars. They were having a great time as well.”
Details: MSC OPAS presents The Midtown Men, Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Rudder Auditorium. $29-$78. 845-1234. opas.tamu.edu.
‘Jersey Boys’ into ‘The Midtown Men,’ that is.”
Article by Bruce Miller, Sioux City Journal
Asked to sing at the former CBS anchor’s 50th birthday party, four members of the original cast of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” liked the experience and, says Christian Hoff, the idea of becoming a group “just snowballed from there.”
The four booked several concerts, liked the reaction and figured life as The Midtown Men “would be a side gig until our next Broadway shows,” Hoff says. “But what we set in motion was bigger than we ever expected.”
Now, Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria are so busy they’ve got concert engagements into 2013.
“What we’re doing is eclipsing our experience in ‘Jersey Boys’ — if that was at all possible. We’re living out a dream.”
All four sang as teenagers; two were in bands. Then Broadway entered their lives and acting looked like the chosen profession.
They met in the original cast of “Jersey Boys,” the musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Hoff played Tommy DeVito, Reichard played Bob Gaudio and Spencer played Nick Massi. Longoria was originally cast as Joe Pesci, then played Frankie Valli after John Lloyd Young left.
The four played around with other ’60s music during the run of the show. They liked what they heard and decided it would be fun to cover hits from some of the Four Seasons’ competition. The result? A catalog that includes the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Ike and Tina Turner, the Turtles, the Rascals, the Righteous Brothers — you name it.
“We made a choice to do less than 40 percent of our set from either the ‘Jersey Boys’ or Frankie Valli,” Hoff says. “Jersey Boys” producers were concerned they were going to do a Frankie Valli-lite version of the show.
“When the dust settled, they realized this was very different from ‘Jersey Boys.’ The only thing that tied us together was that we were in the show.”
Now, with a CD to their credit, the four are making a name for themselves in a different arena.
“It’s very surreal,” Hoff says. “We’re living out a life and a lifestyle that we once portrayed. You’re entertaining from your toes. You’re not portraying another person.”
People identify with them — not their characters — “and there’s no way to describe that. It’s an entertainer’s dream to live in the moment. It’s connecting to the music, yourself and the story of the song. You use your own life experience as the inspiration.”
While all four have had acting offers (can anyone say “Smash”?), they’ve had to put those opportunities on hold while they pursue this option.
Acting, Hoff says, will definitely be a part of their lives. “I’m very excited about the weight and experience this is giving me in my creative soul. These experiences are shaping my character.”
The Midtown Men’s future will definitely include original music. “We’re breathing new life into old music. What we’d like to do next is put our old sound on new music.”
Classics from the 1950s and 1960s, he says, have influenced artists like Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Adele. Competition shows are filled with young singers performing covers. “The music is still alive and well, whether you know it or not,” Hoff says.
And “Jersey Boys”? It keeps chugging along. In addition to selling out on tour, it’s still running on Broadway. Young, in fact, has agreed to return to the show.
Hoff, however, doubts any of the Midtown Men will follow his lead. “My gut instinct, as a group, is that’s a position we’ve outgrown. The phenomenon of ‘Jersey Boys’ lives on in a parallel universe.”
Interestingly, Hoff has never seen the show since leaving it.
“When I left ‘Jersey Boys’ I had been in the shoes of my character for 10 percent of my life — I was 40 and it was four years of my life. To relive it would almost be like trying to time travel.”
The show? It was more than just another job for Hoff. He was involved in its birth in La Jolla, Calif.
The show was tailored to the actors’ talents. And Hoff’s character? He became the heart and soul of the story. The actor earned a Tony nomination for the work — his first Broadway role in 10 years — and viewed the experience as something pretty magical.
The Tony nomination, he says, was validation he had accomplished “what I was called to do.”
The day of the Tony Awards was as hectic as show business gets. In the morning, Hoff and company rehearsed at Radio City Music Hall. In the afternoon they performed a matinee. At night, they did the red carpet, performed on the show and sat in the audience waiting to hear whose name would be called.
Hoff braced himself “and five minutes later I was on stage and the crowd was on its feet. It was so surreal…but it was a triumph for all of us.”
The Best Featured Actor in a Musical trophy sits on his mantel, a tribute to a perfect experience.
Now, Hoff says, there’s a new challenge, a new venture.
“When we started, we weren’t sure if this would have legs,” he says of The Midtown Men. “Now, we’re watching it becoming a phenomenon. We’re not just the talent. We’re the producers, the directors, the choreographers and we’re in control.
“With that control comes responsibility, but we’re ready for it.
“It was a dream of mine to be in a band. Now,” he says, “I’m living the dream.”
The Midtown Men will play Winnavegas Casino at 8 p.m. on May 19. Tickets are $20 in advance, $40 day of show. For more information, call Winnavegas, 1-800-468-9466.
The Midtown Men made American musical theater history in the Original Broadway Cast Of Jersey Boys, and midtown man Christian Hoff charted the course with fellow stars-on-the-rise Alice Ripley, Michael Cerveris and Norm Lewis in Broadway’s The Who’s TOMMY.
Click here to check out broadwayworld.com’s 2012 Tony Awards Countdown.
‘Pinball Wizard’ has been on my mind recently after hearing it several times on the radio in the last week. Each time I hear it, I am transported back to the August Wilson Theatre, December, 2008. No, not Jersey Boys, but my “other” top Broadway experience – Christian Hoff and Donnie Kehr (along with the entire original cast) seriously rocking that song and blowing away every person in that packed house during Rockers on Broadway’s The Who’s TOMMY reunion concert. What an unbelievable experience that show was!
I’ve been imagining Christian Hoff rocking out ‘Pinball Wizard’ once again, only this time accompanied by Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer. How cool would that be?!?
Have you been imagining The Midtown Men performing a favorite song of yours as well? If so, let’s hear about it. I’ll send a Midtown Club souvenir to the people who post the songs and/or stories I like best!
‘Pinball Wizard’ was performed on Glee recently – click to listen.
Congratulations to Barbara Gandy! Barbara had the most correct answers on the latest 60s music quiz. Enjoy your Midtown Men tote, Barbara!!
Here are the answers:
The Four Seasons hit ‘Sherry’ was #3 for the year 1962, and spent 16 weeks on the charts – five of them at #1. (“Big Girls Don’t Cry also hit #1 in 1962 and also spent five weeks in the top position, so either answer was acceptable.)
“This kid could be the next (Michael) Bublé.” Joe Piscopo said this about Michael Longoria.
In 1966, the Beach Boys released the iconic album Good Vibrations.
Four Seasons #1 hit ‘Sherry’ was originally titled ‘Jackie Baby’, in honor of Jackie Kennedy.
In the name “Booker T & The M.G.’s”, the M.G. stands for Memphis Group.
In 2007, Daniel Reichard did a hilarious rendition of the Biz Markie rap song ‘Just A Friend’.
‘Marlena’ was the B-side to ‘Candy Girl’.
Patti LaBelle sang with the 1960’s girl group ‘The Bluebelles’.
Christian Hoff was up against, and beat out, Jim Dale for both the “Best Featured Actor in a Musical” Tony award in 2006, and the world record for “Most Character Voices in an Audio Book” for Tell Me How You Love the Picture.
Billy Fury had hits in the 1960’s with ‘Jealousy’, ‘Halfway to Paradise’, and ‘Like I’ve Never Been Gone’?
J. Robert Spencer lists Improv Olympic – Stand Up on his resumé.
‘Candy Girl’ was the first Four Seasons single NOT composed by either Bob Gaudio or Bob Crewe.
Kyforward.com, a website for all things Kentucky, is giving away a pair of “prime” tickets for this weekend’s Midtown Men show at the Lexington Opera House. Here’s the post from their “smart money” section:
Opera House Midtown Men production
A reminder that two prime seats, valued at $150, could be yours if you answer the contest question and email to email@example.com by 8 a.m. Thursday, April 26. Winner announced that day.
The Midtown Men production features top hits from a Who’s Who of the ‘60s, including the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Temptations, Jackson 5 and the Four Seasons. It’s the last show in the historic Lexington Opera House’s Broadway series.
Lucky winner will answer this question:
The four Midtown Men performers were also featured performers in what other popular Broadway production?