The original Broadway cast of “Jersey Boys” reunites and is currently touring America as The Midtown Men. The four original cast members will make their way to Milwaukee’s Marcus Center on Friday, November 20. In anticipation of the event, Daniel Reichard shared what it was like being the first to play Bob Gaudio on Broadway and how the four men have come to tour as The Midtown Men.
Emily Carl: How did the idea for The Midtown Men take off?
Daniel Reichard: Back in the day when we were all part of the original cast members of “Jersey Boys” on Broadway, and we were going through the experience of being in one of the biggest hits and we started getting asked to sing some shows at events outside of the theater. So we’d show up to a celebrity’s birthday or we’d have a fundraiser for a big charitable organization and after we did this about 10, 15 times while we were in the show- and even for a few years after we were in the show- we said, “Wow! Gosh, we accidentally put a show together. Why don’t we go out on the road and be like a rock and roll group like the group we played on Broadway? We have this evening of 1960s songs and stories- why don’t we take this out on the road?” and since then we have done 5 tours- we’re doing our 6th tour now- we’ve done over 450 concerts and recorded two albums and it’s just been an incredible experience.
EC: So it sounds like you get to tour as yourselves this time around. Is that true or do you play a certain role?
DR: The fun thing about this is that we are ourselves and we play on our own personalities and our friendship in front of the audience and that’s just so much fun. We tell our own stories from touring together and, of course, being on Broadway together. I didn’t think we’d ever be playing ourselves so much in our careers, but you actually learn a lot from playing yourself.
EC: How does Midtown Men compare to playing a character?
DR: It’s a lot more liberating because we do have an act, but it’s also our own act so we can say whatever we want- we can talk about what our experiences are in whatever town we’re playing, we can talk about something that happened on the ride over to that town, or we can say what we just did in the city the week before if it’s an interesting story. So it’s liberating because when you’re in a Broadway show you’re being told where to stand, when to say the line, how to say the line, and in this show we’re in charge of ourselves and each other and we’re a team out there, so it really is liberating.
EC: Do you still script the show or is it largely improvised?
DR: No.. I mean, we’ve done this show so many times that we do have a flow. There’s a flow to the show and the audience spends a lot of our show laughing and we share a lot of our favorite stories and a lot of times we change the set list or we change the order of the songs thirty minutes before the show. That’s how you keep it spontaneous after singing together for ten years. It was the ten year anniversary of “Jersey Boys” on November 6 and the four of us just attended the ten year anniversary performance and party on Sunday together. It was incredible- we were with an enormous number of the original cast and all the designers and creative team…. We all got on stage and performed and people were going crazy and those are the kind of experiences that we love to share with our audiences because they’re all such once in a lifetime experiences.
EC: I don’t even know how to begin asking about originating a role on Broadway, but what was it like being the first to play Bob Gaudio on Broadway and how has that changed your life?
DR: It’s incredible, I think, for any actor to make it to Broadway because it’s one of those classic dreams people have when they’re a kid or in high school or college- that’s an incredible achievement to begin with and then if you happen to be involved with a show that happens to be, at this point, the 12th longest running show on Broadway, you just really feel lucky. You feel that your life has been blessed with once in a lifetime adventure, so I do feel very very lucky and I’m glad I worked hard in my singing and my craft, but it truly makes me happy every single day to know I got to be such a success and can live through those great memories. When we started playing on Broadway, all of a sudden every major celebrity was coming to my dressing room and knocking on my door to say hello before or after the show. We were all on every major television show from “Late Night with David Letterman” to “Dick Clark’s New Years Rockin’ Eve.” We’ve made so many audiences happy and we have these incredible memories so, yeah, you just feel lucky. But then to do what we’ve done as far as creating Midtown Men- I’m even more proud of doing Midtown Men than I am of doing “Jersey Boys” and it’s because it’s something that we’ve created from our own experiences- we choreographed it together, we produced it together, we’ve directed it together, we picked our own suits together, we’ve overseen every creative decision surrounding this and it really is a reflection of who we are as a quartet…. So we took this little dream and we ran with it.
EC: I assume there will be songs by The Four Seasons in the show- how do you go about picking the set list?
DR: Yes. We do some songs from “Jersey Boys” which is very fun. We’ve sung those songs thousands of times together, literally. But the other songs are just as fun- sometimes even more fun than The Four Seasons. We do The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Drifters, The Turtles, The Mamas and the Papas, The Zombies, The Rascals.. the list goes on and on. So we’re giving our audience a full course meal of 1960 rock and roll catalog, and we’ve added songs in the show just in the past two weeks so the show is ever-evolving.
EC: Has this been one continuous journey from “Jersey Boys” to The Midtown Men?
DR: We all worked on different shows after we left “Jersey Boys.” I did “Candide” with the New York City Opera and then I did a stage presentation of one of Jim Henson’s movies called “Emett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas.” Then in April 2010 we started touring as The Midtown Men and its really been a big part of the our lives. None of us have gone back on Broadway since- doing The Midtown Men has been such a full time adventure.
EC: What was it like reuniting with your “Jersey Boys” cast members?
DR: We’ve grown up so much together. I mean, we’ve worked so hard together all these years, and now 10 years later I can happily say we get along better than ever, we know how to talk to each other better than ever, we have worked together so much and been through so much together that I think we share the great pride in our association with each other.
EC: What do you hope audiences get from seeing The Midtown Men?
DR: I hope that people truly get an evening of their lives when they come see us where they get to turn of the screens on their iPhones, turn off the TVs and enjoy live music. Whether they grew up to these songs or they’re young people hearing these songs for the first time, they get to forget all of the things going on outside- all the chaos of our world. We want people to laugh and smile and feel wonderful emotions in a experience of an era of music.
The Midtown Men perform one night only at Milwaukee’s Marcus Center on Friday, November 20 at 8 pm. Tickets are available online or by calling 414-273-7206.