Maybe you’ve seen these guys on the ferry…the Staten Island Ferry, that is. Maybe not. But if you do recognize them at first glance it’s probably because The Midtown Men wowed Broadway audiences with their Tony- and Grammy Award-winning smash hit, Jersey Boys, the story of ‘60s rock n’ roll group The Four Seasons.
This Saturday night the group comes to Davies Symphony Hall for a show at 7:30 p.m.
Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, and Daniel Reichard were good enough to spend time with Cultural Currents for this interview.
Cultural Currents: Where in the world have you received the warmest reception to your remarkable act?
Christian Hoff: Being a part of the creation of what could have been a regionally limited show, (Jersey Boys launched in La Jolla) we learned that the great music and context of the 1960s made for great entertainment…anywhere!
Daniel Reichard: We have had such beautiful responses all over the continent. States like Florida, Texas, California, and of course, New Jersey have welcomed us dozens of times.
Michael Longoria: Our most loving and loudest audiences are in the state of New Jersey. I feel like they have always had a special pride for our journey together in the musical Jersey Boys, and many of the love Frankie Valli. So when we play Jersey it feels like we are coming home.
CC: Which cities surprised you the most?
Longoria: Lexington Kentucky! Never thought I’d ever go there and when we played I found myself wanting to go back.
Reichard: For me, it took us a little while to get to Seattle but when we arrived, it was so special. We filled Benaroya Hall three nights in a row. That city is just spectacular.
Hoff: We’ve taken The Midtown Men out of Jersey across the globe. Most surprising destinations: Mexico City, Venice and Beijing!
CC: How does San Francisco compare to the world’s great venues?
Hoff: Based on our affinity for the city’s historic music scene of the ‘60s, San Francisco could very well eclipse all our geographical highlights combined. You best get your tickets to the celebration, good people!
Reichard: I’m obsessed with San Francisco in general. Some of my best friends live here. I have played my solo shows at Feinstein’s at the Nikko a few times. It is a breathtaking city. This is one of the few great American cities we have not yet played. Naturally, we are over-the-moon to perform at Symphony Hall for our debut.
Longoria: I love San Francisco, so much culture and art in the town. I’m always honored to be a part of a show that entertains the west coast.
CC: Your suit & tie fashion statement is unique. Do you see more young men embracing this trend?
Longoria: I do. It feels great to be able to clean up the look and put on a skinny tie and suit. It’s not just for business men anymore. Young guys are wearing suits to make a statement now.
Reichard: I love wearing suits. While fashion has gotten much more casual over the years, the feeling of putting on a suit for a special occasion always uplifts. I stand up straighter. I concentrate more. Seeing other people do that always makes me smile.
Hoff: Looking sharp always a priority onstage, right up there with the killer hooks, harmonies and dance moves. Did I forget something? Oh yeah, a sense of humor.
CC: What new trends in America’s Songbook are taking hold? Any new discoveries?
Hoff: Study what’s tried and true, then make it your own. Analog is the true Hi-Fidelity. Make it good, keep it real!
Reichard: I think it’s really a matter of songwriters and artists trying to come up with new and exciting hooks that get people going. That’s how it’s always been, and with technology the way it is, there’s more and more and more music out there so it’s harder to stand out.
Longoria: I feel like retro is always cool. I hear 60s and 90s sounds coming back which is great. Both eras that I love!
CC: Finally, can you share a bit about the collaborative effort your act must employ. How do you rehearse for each performance
Longoria: We are four guys with different artistic backgrounds, different ages, and musical influences. So when one of us picks a song, the creative process to find the Midtown Men sound we have 4 different ideas melting into one. We have sung together for so long now that it’s a lot faster to find the harmonies to these great 60s classics!
Hoff: I have found out a few things about the collaborative effort our act employs: The perils of democracy are worth any true result. A different opinion is not itself a threat. Finally listen more than you speak and you can discover solutions together.
Reichard: We have had a blessed journey so far with the typical ups and downs of living your life on the road. The four of us have a great time together on stage and take a lot of pride in what we have accomplished. We created a great business model for other actors who have had success on Broadway. We are playing hundreds and hundreds of cities, produced two albums and two public television specials, and currently have songs playing on multiple radio stations. On the day of a show, we meet on stage for sound check, and then we go out that night and give it all we have.