The Midtown Men – Doing What They’re Called To Do

• March 1, 2015 • Comments (1)


“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.”

The Midtown Men: Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer

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
Tickets: $20-$85
Phone: (619) 235-0804
Online:sandiegosymphony.com

Category: Christian Hoff, Concerts, Media

One comment on “The Midtown Men – Doing What They’re Called To Do

  1. Cheryl I. Munson on said:

    What does Mr. Hoff mean by “we don’t want to kill this thing.”? I don’t WANT him to kill it! Please!

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