The Midtown Men Receive Rave Reviews in Midland

• May 31, 2013 • Comments (0)

The Midtown Men must have been in peak form last night, judging from the reviews coming out of Midland!

Review: Midtown Men rock the house at MATRIX

By Cathy Nelson Price for the Daily News

They didn’t write the songs or even chart the songs that made the whole world sing (and dance), but boy, can the Midtown Men put them over.

Brought to the Midland Center for the Arts as part of the MATRIX:MIDLAND Festival 2013, Broadway’s original “Jersey Boys” (the long-running Broadway hit that chronicled the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) alums Tony Award winner Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and Tony award nominee J. Robert Spencer had a full house on its feet Thursday in the MCFTA Auditorium. Backed by a seven-piece onstage band that sounded like double that number, the quartet’s well-honed 90-minute nonstop concert took the audience back to the AM radio days and all those LPs we saved our allowances to buy.

In the keys and vocal arrangements respectful of — but not slavishly faithful to — the artists who launched them, Midtown Men infused the hits of the Four Seasons, Neil Sedaka, the Beatles, the Turtles, the (Young) Rascals, the Zombies, the Monkees, the Mamas and the Papas, and a ton of Motown with the joy that a singer only gets when riding a really great song. This group has evidently figured out how to have fun onstage without losing either crisp diction or pitch.  (click “Read Post” to view post in its entirety)

Barely pausing for breath, and only leaving the stage to change from basic black jackets to Vegas magenta, the Midtown Men tore through 26 numbers, including several medleys. Tossing the solo chores to each other like a vocal volleyball match, sometimes within a single number, they switched effortlessly from lead to backup duties.

Interspersed with the vocals, the Men shared stories of their time together on Broadway. Valli portrayer Longoria recalled being invited to sing onstage at Lincoln Center with the man himself, only to realize to his horror that Valli expected him to sing a verse of”Let’s Hang On” that Longoria had never had to learn for the show.

Though they gratefully credited “Jersey Boys” with bringing them together and solidifying their onstage chemistry, it was obvious that they relished the chance to put their own stamp on music of that same era. Even their Motown choreography (which at times made them look like they were missing an Osmond brother) was a fun balance of precision and spontaneity.

The most stage time was understandably given to Four Seasons material, which was a boon for those who didn’t get to see the quartet in “Jersey Boys.” Barreling through a medley of “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry,” (as you always suspected, it’s really one long song), their energy and passion demonstrated that 1960s pop music has a life of its own, just waiting for each new generation of singers to claim it. With the Midtown Men honoring its infectious spirit and memorable melodies, it’s in loving hands.

 

 

Review: The Midtown Men flood Midland with ‘Jersey Boys’ memories and more

By Sue White | For MLive.com The Saginaw News

MIDLAND, MI – There’s something beautiful about watching a standing-room-only crowd on its feet, all but a few stragglers here and there dancing and laughing and glowing with the pure joy of just having fun.

That’s how an evening with The Midtown Men closed May 30 at the Midland Center for the Arts’ Matrix:Midland Festival 2013, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard, J. Robert Spencer and Michael Longoria from the original cast of Broadway’s “Jersey Boys” drawing its own version of a standing ovation.

But the four took their time getting there, through music and inside stories leisurely strolling their way down memory lane. If the Turtles’ “So Happy Together” didn’t snag you with its almost ethereal harmonies, you could hit the ground running with Longoria as he remembered the day Frankie Valli caught him at an afternoon matinee.

“I thought everyone was cheering for me until I looked out at the fifth row,” the tenor said.

The Midtown Men fell in love with the music during their Broadway run, Longoria said, and in dressing-room jams started harmonizing on other songs from the ‘60s. What grew out of it is a night that’s never going to make you believe Smokey Robinson is in the house but explains how “Jersey Boys” continues to captivate a crowd.

In Midland, the four struck a fine balance between music and theater, channeling the power of the iconic tunes into a running narrative of life in New York City’s theater district. One minute, you were growling out “Great God in heaven…” from Blood, Sweat and Tears and the next, you’re in the alley behind the theater with Spencer, Joe Pesci heckling him after he accidentally locked himself out.

You could actually hear Pesci’s cackle; after all, that’s the role Longoria played in “Jersey Boys” before moving into Valli’s shoes, and he made good use of his experience Thursday.

And despite a fleeting scare during an opening medley of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ hits, wondering if this is what Spencer meant by “slipping a few in,” the four delivered enough “Jersey Boys” numbers and lore to keep the Broadway fans engaged.

“The Four Seasons are dead-on,” especially Reichard’s portrayal of Four Seasons’ chief songwriter Bob Gaudio, said Gary Rocha, who has seen the show twice on Broadway and twice on tour. “The one that always changes is Frankie Valli. It has to be an exhausting role because they’re always bringing in someone new and each has his own style.”

In a nod to the Michigan connection, the four turned the spotlight on Motown as well before closing with, appropriately enough, the Four Seasons’ “Bye Bye Baby.”

Category: Concerts, Media, The MEN, The MUSIC

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