Tag: symphony shows
“We all kind of feel like this is what we’re called to do. That’s what’s keeping us from going back too soon to Broadway.” Christian Hoff
The Midtown Men’s Christian Hoff: ‘San Diego feels right’
Vocal group back in San Diego for two-night engagement with San Diego Symphony
By Michael James Rocha, The San Diego Union Tribune, MARCH 1, 2015
After doing five Florida shows in six days — Boca Raton, Clearwater, Orlando, Jacksonville and Fort Pierce — Christian Hoff was finally back on home turf.
“Hi Michael, I literally just touched down in San Diego,” says Hoff, the Tony Award-winning actor who calls Valley Center home. “Can you call me back in five, six minutes?”
Hoff, who earned the best featured actor in a musical Tony in 2006 for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito in the La Jolla Playhouse-bred “Jersey Boys,” deserves five minutes, if not six. He’s been busy.
He’s currently on the fifth national tour of The Midtown Men, a quartet comprised of four stars from the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys.” The Midtown Men, which is not affiliated with “Jersey Boys,” perform hits from the 1960s, and on this current tour, are bringing their vocal harmonies to symphony halls and performing arts centers across the country. Hoff will be joined Friday by fellow performers Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer for a two-night engagement at Jacobs Music Center as part of the San Diego Symphony’s City Lights Series.
Performing in San Diego — they were last here in the summer at Moonlight Amphitheater — is special but surreal “because it’s sort of like singing for grandma, except grandma just happens to be a big Broadway producer.”
That’s a nod to the caliber of San Diego’s theatrical landscape: “My two Broadway experiences started in San Diego. There’s a sense of homegrown excellence — with the Old Globe, the La Jolla Playhouse. This is a testament to what a great arts community San Diego is. San Diego is like the unsung hero of excellence in many aspects — technology, biotech, research — and certainly for me, as an artist, San Diego feels right. Even though I’m on the road a lot, San Diego is always the epicenter. It just feels right.”
What feels right, too, is the material they get to work with as part of The Midtown Men: “The great thing about the material is how it connects with the audience. With pop music, in this case from the 1960s, we could have something that’s superficial — songs that we just sing and perform.
“But we’ve found there’s deep roots in this music, and it’s not just generational or regional — the roots of this music are across all lines. This is a borderless entity that we have entered into, and it never ceases to amaze. Five years into this tour and 10 years into singing together, every night on the stage feels fresh and new … because of how we are connecting with the music and how our band connects with the music and especially how the audience is connecting with the music.”
The rigorous touring schedule — they’ve performed more than 400 shows since the tour began — sounds taxing, but “you learn how to get into that mindset, physically and emotionally. We learned that on Broadway. It takes a lot of passion and love to do what we do, and we all love it. Being on stage … it’s playtime for us.”
Being off stage, he adds, is “like a reunion. We have a tradition of going out and meeting the audience after each show, and time and time again, we meet people who saw us when we were on ‘Jersey Boys.’ They’re bringing us photos and programs from the show. They’re like family.”
Besides his actual family in San Diego — his wife and their five children — Hoff says the local theater community also holds a special place in his heart.
His first theatrical experience — at the age of 8 in San Diego Junior Theater’s “Cinderella” — “made who I am today a possibility. I didn’t even know that being an actor was something I could be. I thought I was going to play baseball. A team. A coach. Practice. That was my reality. But I stepped into theater and saw something similar: A field, the stage. A coach, there’s my director. The role, it was like playing shortstop. The applause, it was like hitting a homerun. I went from this shy kid who didn’t (know) he could do it to someone who suddenly has a new calling, and it just took off from there.”
Besides “Jersey Boys,” his list of accomplishments is long: dancing with Shirley MacLaine, voicing Richie Rich for several years and many theatrical roles, including that of Pinball Lad on “The Who’s Tommy,” another Tony Award-winning musical that traces its roots to the La Jolla Playhouse (it was directed by Des McAnuff, who also helmed “Jersey Boys”).
Will there be a sixth tour for The Midtown Men?
“We all kind of feel like this is what we’re called to do,” Hoff says. “That’s what’s keeping us from going back too soon to Broadway.”
With a chuckle, he adds: “We’re booking into 2016. We can’t kill this thing.”
San Diego Symphony presents The Midtown Men
With: Todd Ellison, conductor. The Midtown Men: Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer
When: 8 p.m. Friday, March 6, and Saturday, March 7
Where: Jacobs Music Center’s Copley Symphony Hall, 750 B St., downtown
Phone: (619) 235-0804
Midtown Men and Philly Pops to share Trenton stage to benefit Foundation of Morris Hall/St. Lawrence
By Kelly Johnson | Times of Trenton on September 25, 2014
(excerpts - click here to read article in it’s entirety)
Hit songs from the 1960s will feature a twist Saturday as The Midtown Men and the Philly Pops orchestra share the stage of the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial in Trenton for a benefit concert.
The two groups will not be strangers to being on stage together, as they performed this same concert last year in Philadelphia.
“It was our most exciting concert,” said Frank Giordano, president and CEO of the Pops. “We were turning people away. It was our most well attended, enthusiastic show.”He expects the turnout in Trenton to be no different.
“It’s a phenomenal, electrifying show. You’ve not heard the music sounding like this before,” he said. “It’s the songbook of your life. It’s the music you know and love and this is the music that gets you on your feet.”
“Originally, a lot of the songs did have instruments in the background, but when you add an entire symphony orchestra it just ramps up the entire presentation and makes it all that more exciting,” said Michael Krajewski, who took over as music director and conductor of the Pops in 2013. “It’s just going to be a great evening of nostalgia and songs and people are just going to want to sing along to the songs all night long.”
“I personally always enjoy doing this program because the guys in the Midtown Men are so skilled and so good at what they do and so much fun to be on stage with,” Krajewski said. “It’s very high energy and they really put on a very energetic, entertaining show.”
The annual concert, now in its 13th year, raises money for the Foundation of Morris Hall/St. Lawrence Inc., which includes St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center and St. Mary’s Assisted Living, Grace Garden Memory Care and St. Joseph’s Skilled Nursing Center at Morris Hall in Lawrence. Proceeds will benefit charity care of the patients and residents.
Broadway’s Jersey Boys, The Midtown Men, to perform with The Philly POPS
by Allen Foster, Philadelphia Celebrity Examiner
May 12, 2014
Before The Midtown Men, Tony® Award-winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard, and Tony® Award nominee J. Robert Spencer were the original stars of the Broadway phenomenon “Jersey Boys.” With over 1,000 performances on stage together, this dynamic foursome has since expanded their repertoire to cover not only Frankie Valli, but all the greats from the 60s, as well. In a rare, special engagement, The Midtown Men will be shedding their regular seven piece band in favor of the 60 piece orchestral backing of the renowned Philly POPS! Under the sublime direction of conductor Michael Krajewski, the two entertainment powerhouses will unite to bring you a one of a kind, truly unforgettable show called “Sixties Hits” on May 16, 17, and 18 at Verizon Hall in The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA.
Examiner recently talked with Christian Hoff about The Midtown Men’s upcoming performances with The Philly POPS.
Examiner: When you come to The Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, instead of your regular seven piece band, you are going to be playing with The Philly POPS! That’s pretty exciting!
Christian: It is! We are looking forward to it! This has been on the calendar for a long, long time. Philadelphia was just a real solid anchor early on when The Midtown Men were just beginning our venture into the symphonic world.
Examiner: Does this show contain The Midtown Men’s full repertoire? What can patrons expect?
Christian: What we decided to do with the symphonic shows was take our favorite songs from our set lists over the years and orchestrate them in symphonic fashion. The current show consists of about 60-70 minutes of our favorites.
Examiner: What kind of musical treats will be included in this show?
Christian: Well, when we were considering music for this show, we were really thinking about songs that we could orchestrate that would stretch some limits. For instance, from Ike and Tina Turner, we orchestrated “River Deep, Mountain High,” which was a Phil Spector song. It wasn’t necessarily a huge success for Tina Turner, but we loved the way that Phil orchestrated it with his Wall of Sound, so we said, “Why don’t we pay homage to that and do an actual wall of sound with an 85 piece orchestra?!” Another way we stretched the limits was when we did The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” — which is one of our favorite songs that we perform — we added horns. Rarely does a band do a Beatles’ arrangement with horns. We’ll also be doing songs from The Mamas & The Papas, The Turtles, The Association, and, of course, The Four Seasons. We do a Motown medley which is just really, really fun to hear, it’s a big, big orchestrated funky groove that is unique and wonderful!
Examiner: What is the difference between The Midtown Men and an average 60′s music cover band?
Christian: The hook is we’re singing the great songs of the 60s, and that is what gets people in the seats, but we’re bringing something more to it. We’re bringing a fresh take on this classic music. We’re bringing a life to it in a way that isn’t just nostalgia or a tribute. We understand the music and the roots in a way that I don’t think a cover band really can because we are also all actors and we love the dramaturgy of this, too! You need the live band, you need the orchestra, and you need these lyrics to come to life in a new way, right in front of your very eyes. The beauty of live theater, live performance, and, in this case, live music. I think that aspect is what brings people to their feet as much as hearing their favorite songs.
Examiner: Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?
Christian: When we first set out to do this orchestrated version of our show, we knew The Philly POPS would be a milestone in our career. Philadelphia is just such a great music town! Also, as artists, one of the guys, Michael Longoria, worked quite a bit in Philadelphia, and our horn section is comprised of all Philly horns! So, we’ve come full circle. To be able to perform with The Philly POPS is a great mark of success. We look forward to celebrating that success with The Philly POPS this weekend. It’s going to be a celebration of Philly and music of the 60s all wrapped up in one!
“We’re like the Rat Pack meets Bruno Mars,” (Christian) Hoff said in a recent phone interview with Kim Fuller of the Vail Daily.
The Sixties are a decade of music that the Midtown Men have learned to trust, Hoff said, treating it like it is their time, because they are in the moment during every show. He said once the lights go down, it feels like time travel. (click here to read article in its entirety.)
In addition to tonight’s show in Beaver Creek (March 21 @ 7:30, Vilar Performing Arts Center – click here for ticket info,) The Midtown Men will perform at Boettcher Concert Hall with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra tomorrow night (Saturday, March 22 @ 7:30 – click here for ticket info.)
The Midtown Men played three shows this past weekend with The Grand Rapids Symphony, and according to MLive’s Jeff Kaczmarczyk, they had the audience hoping they would ‘work their way back’ soon!
(following is an excerpt from Kaczmarczyk’s January 18, 2014 post on mlive.com)
Midtown Men put Frankie Valli and Four Seasons back on stage with Grand Rapids Symphony
The Midtown Men, dapper in navy suits with skinny lapels and ties, dancing the steps that made the Four Tops and Jackson 5 famous, entertained with the enthusiasm of chorus members in their first leading role but with the poise and polish of seasoned veterans.
The four were a fun-loving, mutual admiration society, swapping stories for the audience, and sharing leads in songs by Neil Sedaka and by Gerry Goffin and Carole King with guest conductor Sarah Hicks leading the Grand Rapids Symphony.
… music of the Four Seasons made up the bulk of the show, and songs such as “Working My Way Back to You” likely left the audience hoping the Midtown Men would do so soon.
( click here to read full article and view more great pictures from the show)
The Midtown Men, who starred in the original Broadway production of “Jersey Boys,” join the Grand Rapids Symphony for hit songs from the 1960s on Jan. 17-19, 2014 in DeVos Performance Hall.
The following is an excerpt from an article written by Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk for MLive.com – to read the article in its entirety, click here.
The Midtown Men join the Grand Rapids Symphony this weekend for its Pops Series in DeVos Performance Hall.
“I think people of all generations wish they could have been there to actually experience the ‘60s, because the ‘60s were so monumental, both musically and politically,” said (J. Robert) Spencer, a Tony Award-nominee who played Massi in “Jersey Boys.”
“You can understand the words, the passion and the meaning of the music, and the main message of that time, which was love,” Spencer said.
Along with crooning the Four Season’s biggest hits, The Midtown Men also apply their soaring falsetto singing to music by The Beatles and Motown groups.
Matching suits, slicked-back hair and choreographed dance moves accompany chart-topping ‘60s hits including such Four Seasons hits as “Dawn (Go Away)” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.
Guest conductor Sarah Hicks, principal pops conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra, who also has worked by artists including Josh Groban, Smokey Robinson and Sting, leads the Grand Rapids Symphony and vocal quartet through such songs as The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love,” The Turtles’ “Happy Together,” and The Zombies’ “Time of the Season.”
Midtown Men includes (Michael) Longoria, who starred as Valli in “Jersey Boys,” and (Daniel) Reichard, a graduate of the University of Michigan, who played Gaudio in the Broadway show.
The Four Seasons throughout the 1960s enjoyed a reputation as clean-cut boys who wore suits and ties and sang songs about falling in love with nice girls.
… “Jersey Boys,” which weaves the Four Season’s songs into the tumultuous tale of their own roughneck-to-record success, has toured more than once to Grand Rapids, most recently last October, attracting audiences of all ages.
It’s not hard to see why, according to (Christian) Hoff, who starred as DeVito in “Jersey Boys,” winning a Tony Award for his performance.
“The quality and diversity of sound and storytelling in these songs represents many generations,” he said.
Grand Rapids Symphony
What: Pops Series with The Midtown Men
When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 17-18; 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014
Where: DeVos Performance Hall, 303 Monroe Ave. NW
Visit Ticketmaster or call 800-982-2787
Midtown Men pay handsome musical homage to the 1960s
By Lawrence Toppman
Posted: Friday, Nov. 01, 2013
The Midtown Men – a strange name, but apt. They strike a balance between uptown suavity (Hugo Boss suits, their website says) and a bit of downtown funkiness, when their 1960s songbook ventures toward Detroit. And they made their names in midtown Manhattan when they met in the original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” eight years ago.
The close-harmony quartet joined the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Friday night for They’ve sung together as Midtown Men for six years, and they know exactly how to handle a crowd. I would guess the lone moment of spontaneity came when a singer knocked over a stool in the first half (and ad-libbed smoothly), but that makes their energy and commitment even more impressive. To run a musical express train night after night is no easy task.
They work the “Jersey Boys” angle ceaselessly: in anecdotes, reminiscences about cast members, reminders that the musical and its cast album won Tony and Grammy awards. Slightly less than half the musical material in this show comes from “Jersey Boys,” from the opening “Let’s Hang On”/Working My Way Back to You” medley to the second encore of “Bye Bye Baby.”
The Four Seasons weren’t known for slow material, and their philosophy affects this concert. In the first half, midtempo tunes such as “Up on the Roof” and “Time of the Season” slow the pace briefly, but we don’t really get a quiet ballad until well after intermission: “My Eyes Adored You,” arranged for all four to sing rotating leads in a version that surpasses the original in tenderness. (Heresy, I know.)
Michael Longoria doesn’t do a mere Frankie Valli impression in the Four Seasons numbers: His raspy falsetto and note-bending style make him his own man. The unusual thing about Midtown Men is that all the guys can blend, but all can be solid soloists: Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer each capably carry a song every three or four numbers. (None has a voice lower than baritone, though, so all the harmonies are high.)
They brought their own combo, headed by pianist/arranger George Maurer, but his arrangements treated the Charlotte Symphony as more than a beefy string section. The orchestra and buoyant conductor Albert-George Schram brought sonic splendor to “Dawn,” and even Tina Turner would have enjoyed the grandeur of “River Deep, Mountain High.” (On the other hand, a hyperinflated “Big Girls Don’t Cry” sounds overblown.)
The listing on the Blumenthal Performing Arts website isn’t quite accurate: The Midtown Men don’t do songs by the Beach Boys, and some tunes don’t come from the 1960s. They do perform a Motown medley, as advertised, and prove middle-aged white guys in matching gray suits can have their own kind of soul.
Click here for tickets to Saturday night’s show (Nov 2, 8pm at Belk Theatre, Charlotte.)
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.
(click “Read Post” below to view post in its entirety)
“They swing, they groove and they are thoroughly cool…”
Midtown Men fill night with harmony
By Kim Carpenter, WORLD-HERALD CORRESPONDENT
They swing, they groove and they are thoroughly cool as they move through the music that comprises a fitting survey of many of the best-loved songs from the early ’60s.
A bit of backstory to TMM’s backbeat: the foursome — Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony Award nominee J. Robert Spencer — founded the group in 2007 following a highly successful run on Broadway as the original cast members of “Jersey Boys.” Unlike their previous show, which focused on the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, this one features a “classic catalogue” from the first part of the 1960s, that is, from the time before the decade became synonymous with hippies, drugs and the Vietnam War. It’s music from the baby boomer generation’s Age of Innocence, and it includes selections from groups as wide-ranging stylistically as the Temptations and the Mamas and the Papas.
(click “Read Post” to view post in its entirety)