Sep 142011
 
Authors: Courtney Riley

Although music of the ‘60s was made before his time, Michael Longoria, who played Frankie Valli in the hit Broadway musical, “Jersey Boys,” said classic songs from this decade is the best music ever written.

“With contemporary music, you just don’t get the same quality,” he said. “The lyrics are simple, and the notes are more confined. (Music from the ‘60s) really allows you to express the human experience that the ‘60s holds within itself.”

Longoria, along with three of the men who played the Four Seasons in “Jersey Boys,” Daniel Reichard, Christian Hoff and J. Robert Spencer, is coming to Fort Collins’ recently renovated Lincoln Center Saturday night in the group’s original show, “Midtown Men.” The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $85.

The four men will sing their favorite songs by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, along with songs by other artists of the ‘60s, including the Mamas and the Papas, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and more.

“You listen to the music and you hear exactly what they’re going through at the time,” Longoria said. “It’s all about what’s inside, what your soul is expressing.”

While singing, the men see people of every age in the audience singing along to the music.

“There are kids out there singing to music that’s from their grandparents’ generation,” Longoria said. “That’s what’s so amazing and timeless about music.”

Starring in “Jersey Boys” as one of the Four Seasons will “unquestionably” go down as one of Reichard’s main highlights in his life, he said.

At first, he was reluctant to dive into the project.

“It almost seemed like it was going to be a detour on my road to success, but it was the biggest life-changing career experience I have,” he said. “I feel so grateful that I’ve gotten to go for a ride that so many actors are aching to have to get to be a part of a success like ‘Jersey Boys.’”

However, he said the production “Midtown Men” is something he’s even more proud of.

“We’ve all built this together. It’s our baby,” Reichard said. “We got to be a part of a huge production, but ‘Midtown Men’ is something we’ve choreographed ourselves, and we’ve conceived ourselves. It’s truly my biggest pride and joy. It creates a bigger thrill for me than even ‘Jersey Boys’ did.”

Longoria said he and the other men feel like they’re ambassadors of the 60s era to the different cities they perform “Midtown Men” in.

“We feel blessed. Each place we go, it’s like a time capsule,” he said. “For a moment (the audience gets) to escape and feel what it was like to see that music in a current way.”

The musical “Jersey Boys” tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ pursuit of the “American Dream” through the music they produced.

It debuted on Broadway in 2005 and won a Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album that same year.

“Back then none of us knew what a rocket ride we were going to be on,” Longoria said. “But we realized this was going to be an amazing piece of art, and we were blessed with an audience who loved it and made it a big hit.”

Reflecting on his experience, he said, “My favorite part of ‘Jersey Boys’ was playing Frankie Valli and singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’ one of the best loves songs ever written.”

While performing in “Jersey Boys,” Longoria said he felt a kind of connection with the audience that was indescribable.

“In the ‘Midtown Men’ show, that unity (makes you) feel the audience wants you to succeed, and hit that high note in ‘Sherry,’” Longoria said. “We really do it well, and we really do it for the people.”

In “Jersey Boys,” the men were in character speaking with tough Jersey accents, telling a story of a band through its songs that helped define a decade.

“But (in ‘Midtown Men’), you’re definitely going to hear their songs more like they were recorded back in the day, more of the soul versions,” Longoria said. “In our show we give the audience what they want, the entire song.”

The four men feel like they are living that same “American Dream” they acted out in “Jersey Boys” with their production of “Midtown Men,” Reichard said.

“We’re putting our hearts and souls into it: the blood, sweat and tears,” he said. “We certainly had no idea that a few years after leaving (‘Jersey Boys’) we’d be back together again touring the country, living out the rock star fantasy we were portraying in the show,” Reichard said.

He described “Midtown Men” as a multiple-course meal of the 60s experience. Every four minutes the audience will get a different taste of the 60s, which is what sets the show apart from “Jersey Boys.”

Longoria will sing his favorite Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ song ‘Bye Bye Baby,’ in “Midtown Men,” along with other favorites.

“Of course you can’t get away from not loving ‘Sherry,’” Longoria said. “It put the Four Seasons on the map as one of the iconic groups of the 60s.”

The Midtown Men’s new album, titled, “The Midtown Men: Sixties Hits,” will be on sale at the event Saturday.

“People get to see us live on stage, and then they get to take us home with them,” Longoria said. “The CD really puts our mark on all these songs, that’s what ‘Midtown Men’ is all about.”

Charles Alexander, long-time senior editor for Time Magazine was mentioned in a press release for “Midtown Men,” saying, “This new Fab Four became rock stars in their own right. They are helping the pop composers of the ’60s take their rightful place in the Great American
Songbook.”

Reichard said he and his fellow performers can see their audiences really come to life in front of their eyes.

“It’s an honor to bring the memories of the past into experience in the now,” he said. “It’s a great thrill doing music. You’re bringing back old memories, but you’re creating new ones in the moment.”

“The audience gets to see what it was like to go through a rocket ride on Broadway,” Reichard said. “(While working with ‘Jersey Boys,’) we were always doing something kind of crazy, like ringing the stock market bell and getting to sing in Times Square for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve.”

The four men relate as alumni of a megahit musical, but they have a deep friendship as well, Reichard said.

“We’re running a piece of art together. It creates a very unique relationship between four men, who are all different ages and in different situations in life,” he said. “We love each other, we laugh together, we tease each other, and at the same time we’re running and growing a business of our very own.”

Entertainment editor Courtney Riley can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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