The Midtown Men – Stars In Their Own Story

• October 3, 2014 • Comments (1)

“…we could have our cake and eat it, too. You don’t have to be happy with the apple pie a la mode. You could try the blueberry cobbler.”

J. Robert Spencer


The best role of all? Themselves, say the Midtown Men

by Bruce R. Miller, Sioux City Journal

(excerpts, click here to read article in its entirety


How do four actors juggle Broadway careers and another identity as the Midtown Men?

J. Robert Spencer was nominated for a Tony Award for his work in "Next to Normal.

“It comes down to timing,” says J. Robert Spencer, a Tony-nominated member of the group. “The Midtown Men usually have the summers off so we can try something then.”

Last summer, for example, the 45-year-old Spencer played Abraham Lincoln in a “wacky, Mel Brooks-style musical” at the New York Musical Theatre Festival. Throughout the year, he, Christian Hoff, Daniel Reichard and Michael Longoria also have the ability to squeeze in appearances in films and television shows.

Too good to be true? Spencer wondered when the Midtown Men idea was posed.

“I was in ‘Next to Normal,’ which won the Pulitzer Prize and got me my Tony nomination, when my best friend called with the idea and said, ‘Do you want to go on the road?’”

Spencer talked it over with his wife and realized, “If we don’t try it, we’ll never know.”

Almost immediately, he says, they learned “we could have our cake and eat it, too. You don’t have to be happy with the apple pie a la mode. You could try the blueberry cobbler. It took off like wildfire.”

Now, the Midtown Men are nearing their 400th concert appearance. They’ve opened for Bruno Mars, performed at an oil tycoon’s birthday party, appeared on the White House lawn and recorded CDs and a PBS special.

“Broadway brought us rewards that every actor dreams of,” Spencer says. “But this has given us something more, something entirely different.”


“For the droves who come to see (us) as the Midtown Men, I’m Nick Massi from ‘Jersey Boys’ or I’m the husband in ‘Next to Normal.’”

A gritty musical, “Next to Normal” traced a woman’s mental breakdown and the effects it had on her family.

Spencer, who played the woman’s husband, says it was very tough emotionally. “After a week of it, I’d look at my wife and say, ‘I just need to cry.’ I needed an outlet, other than a stage, to deal with it.”

The show, he says, was so “rock solid,” it never felt difficult during performances. “It was a huge collaborative effort – from writing to acting to directing – and it was like being on a roller coaster. When you work with Alice Ripley (who won the Tony for her performance), you have to be on your toes. We connected as friends, as playmates, and that made the journey so rewarding.”

Spencer says he and the other Midtown Men are getting a kick out of relating to an audience as themselves, not some characters.

“When we get on stage and tell stories,” he says, “they’re our stories, not someone else’s.”

The Midtown Men will appear at WinnaVegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa at 8 p.m. Oct. 10.  Tickets are available by calling 800-468-9466.

Category: Concerts, J. Robert Spencer, Media, The MEN

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  1. Heather says:

    great article – you guys have only gotten better since JB!

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