The Reporter Herald (Loveland, CO) Interviews Michael Longoria

• September 9, 2011 • Comments (7)

Former ‘Jersey Boys’ go all-American

Midtown Men bring ’60s music to Lincoln Center on cross-country tour

By Joyce Davis Special to the Reporter-Herald
Posted: 09/09/2011 04:03:08 PM MDT

L to R; J. Robert Spencer, Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard

It’s a sunny Saturday outside a local diner in Huntingdon, Tenn.  Michael Longoria, J. Robert Spencer, Christian Hoff and Daniel Reichard have finished breakfast and are posing for photo-snapping fans, who will take in their musical tribute to the ’60s that night.  It’s one of the group’s stops on their way to Fort Collins to celebrate the Lincoln Center’s grand opening Sept. 17.

In a phone interview, Longoria says the Midtown Men’s cross-country tour is defining.  “We’re like the soundtrack of America; that’s what the journey means to us.”

The four definitely have bragging rights to their jump and jive all-American ’60s sound that includes top hits from The Beatles, Beach Boys and Temptations.  Featured in the original Broadway cast of “The Jersey Boys,” the four brought life to the iconic story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons for nearly 1,000 performances.

Following “Jersey Boys,” the four played benefits and private parties, honing a harmony of their own and blending their individual personalities.  As the Midtown Men, they’re finishing up a 70-city national tour and celebrating the release of their first CD, “The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits.”

“It’s been great to sing outside the show,” says Longoria, who originated* the Frankie Valli role.  “Now we’re able to sing our favorites from that rock era the way we want to.  In ‘Jersey Boys’ I was playing Frankie, which is very different from the real Michael Longoria.  Now, all the facade is taken away and stripped down to who I am as a performer.  We’re all very different from the roles we played on Broadway.  Now we’re off the cuff and having a lot of fun doing it our way.”

Longoria and Spencer credit their moms for their love of rock ‘n’ roll.  “I’m thankful my mom played the oldies,” Longoria says.  “I think the music from the ’60s had it all.  The melody made you jump and move around and the lyrics told a story that spoke to you about life and love.”

For Spencer, it brings memories of a young boy in Texas.  ” My mom couldn’t afford a sitter, so she took me everywhere in the car and let me listen to anything I wanted on the radio.  I always chose the classic station and to this day, I hear a certain song and I’m back in that yellow station wagon.  I think the same thing happens when people hear us.  These songs connect people all over the world.”

Longoria tells of performing recently in Arkansas.  “We walk out on stage and the first person I see is a 9-year-old boy holding our CD, wearing a Midtown Men hat and singing every word from ‘Working My Way Back to You.’  That tells me the music still crosses all ages.”

The Midtown Men take the audience back to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll.  “We’re exploring a repertoire of music that maintains the same energy that was there when the songs were written,” Longoria says.  “We go out on that stage and we feel as timeless as the songs.”

Spencer is thrilled to explore the genre.  “I love what Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young did.  They were so eclectic and we try to be that way in our show.  These were great bands exploring a new kind of music with no boundaries, no rules.  They were free to re-invent and write music with their own personality and passion — all with a twist.

“We try to do that in our concerts.  We do some Mamas and the Papas and a great Motown medley that brings the house down.  That’s what it’s all about.  We were blessed to work on Broadway, and now we’re blessed to have the opportunity to rejoin each other and do our own thing, our own way, on our own time.”

Longoria says his story is akin to living a real-life ’60s song.  “I’m from California and at 17 I had a scholarship to NYU.  I was scared to death, but I thought if I didn’t jump at the chance to make music my life then I never would,” he says.  “I was a young, delusional teen with dreams bigger than myself that eventually came true.”

The Midtown Men are delighted to kick off the Lincoln Center’s grand opening. “It will be an amazing thing to put on the first show there,” Longoria says.

Spencer says the music is upbeat and electrifying. “We have so much fun, I can tell you the Fort Collins audience will have smiles on their faces that go from east to west.”

*  Michael Longoria actually originated the role of Joe Pesci, later moving into the role of Frankie Valli.

Category: Media, The MEN, The MUSIC

Comments (7)

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  1. Carolyn says:

    David Norona was indeed the pre-Broadway Frankie in Jersey Boys, which ran in La Jolla from October 5, 2004 through January 16, 2005 as an out of town tryout for the Broadway hit (Wikipedia). David decided not to follow the show to Broadway (NY Times November 6, 2005) and the role was given to John Lloyd Young. It is John Lloyd Young who is named part of the Original Broadway Cast of Jersey Boys and won the Tony for Best Actor. The show went on to win many awards, including the Grammy for the Original Broadway Cast Recording. JLY, Christian, Bobby, Daniel, and Michael Longoria…along with many other cast members, can all be heard on this amazing CD. Michael is also part of the Original Broadway Cast of JB, as Joey. As time when on, it became no secret that 8 shows a week was too much of a strain for anyone’s voice, playing the role of Frankie Valli. I believe Michael then took on the role of Frankie two days a week and playing Joey the other six and then was later given the lead, when John Lloyd left Broadway November 2007. I never had the opportunity to see David perform, but I heard he was wonderful. I have been fortunate to see both JLY and Michael on Broadway, and they both were terrific! All three actors have definitely played major roles in the making of such a great production!

  2. David Norona says:

    How absolutely shameful to say Longoria originated Frankie Valli, when everyone knows it was David Norona.

    • Catherine says:

      Since I did not write this article, only copied it from the Reporter-Herald, I didn’t feel comfortable changing the content. But I do apologize for not clarifying their mistake from the start.

    • JB says:

      No offense, Catherine, but I have a hard time believing David Norona reads the Midtown Men’s fan site, or that he would post that comment – speaking of himself in the third person?!?

      Either way, though, I always thought that JLY “originated” the role, since he was the star on opening night on Broadway, not opening night of previews. Anyone else have more insight?

    • Shelly says:

      Too funny – I just saw David Norona on The Mentalist.

  3. sharon says:

    really excited to see “The Men” on oct 7 in easton pa!!

  4. Ed Noonan says:

    Long live The Midtown Men (great name!).
    When are you guys playing Cleveland, Dan’s hometown?

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