Boys to Men:
A hit Broadway musical’s original stars bring their talents to Lafayette. By Walter Pierce

20110928-indfocus-0102They’re from all over the United States, but they’ll forever be Jersey boys. Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer were the original stars of the hit Broadway Jersey Boys, the Tony Award-winning musical chronicling the 1960s pop vocal group The Four Seasons, who in real life were four Italian-American kids from New Jersey who reached the top of the U.S. pop charts. For more than 2,000 performances Hoff, Longoria, Reichard and Spencer portrayed Frankie Valli and company. Then they became the award-winning Midtown Men, taking that celebration of a more innocent time and its celebratory music to a nationwide audience.

The Performing Arts Society of Acadiana presents The Midtown Men on Thursday, Sept. 29, at the Heymann Performing Arts Center.

“The thrill of performing as The Midtown Men is on par with our experience on Broadway mixed with the raw excitement of a live concert tour,” says Hoff. “Our Broadway tradition of coming out the stage door and connecting with the very people that matter most, the audience, continues, as we bring this electrifying show to people everywhere.”

The popularity of HBO’s Mad Men — and, now, broadcast TV’s Pan Am and Playboy Club — certainly didn’t hurt American audiences’ appreciation of the slender ties, close-cropped hair and mohair suits of the era. But the music this vocal quartet performs is more timeless than a revivalist television drama. The group, which specializes in tight harmonies, sings everything from The Beatles and The Beach Boys to The Jackson Five and The Mamas & The Papas.

“This is truly a rock ’n’ roll fantasy,” gushes Spencer. “We’re doing what any rock band does: getting on the road and bringing it to the people. The smiles on our audiences faces, the standing ovations, getting to meet and sign our CDs for the audiences that want to meet us, shake hands, take pictures — that’s the absolute best. We love doing what we do, and we’re appreciative we have audiences that love it as much as we do.”

But The Midtown Men isn’t all these performers are up to. Each has distinguished himself outside the group. The Tony Award-winning Hoff also appears frequently in recurring roles on TV dramas and is one of the most sought-after voice-over artists in the business; as a singer-songwriter, Longoria is a regular in such NYC institutions as The Cutting Room and The Knitting Factory; Spencer, a Tony nominee, is also a producer, director and writer of independent films; and Reichard is as well known in the Big Apple for his operatic performances as he is for his part in a popular vocal pop group.

But for the quartet, it all began on the Broadway stage in a musical about four guys from the other side of the Hudson River.
Jersey Boys on Broadway was an amazing rocket ride that none of us were expecting,” recalls Longoria. “The experience really sealed a bond between us that you can feel when we sing together. It was a natural progression for the four of us to sing more iconic songs of the ’60s together.”


THE MIDTOWN MEN
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29
Heymann Performing Arts Center
Presented by PASA
Ticket info: 237-2787
or Pasa-Online.org

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