The Tony, Olivier, and Grammy Award-winning musical Jersey Boys—the biographical musical based on the story of legendary American doo-wop group Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons—will finally have its Philippine premiere with an all-Filipino cast.
Mounted by director Bobby Garcia’s Atlantis Theatrical Entertainment Group (Ateg)—which in the last 14 years has brought to Manila stage the best of Broadway via Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, Dream Girls, Avenue Q, and Rock of Ages, among many others—ready to lead the stellar cast of Jersey Boys are acoustic balladeer Nyoy Volante in the coveted role of Frankie Valli, lead vocalist of the Four Seasons; Asian Pop Superstar Christian Bautista as Bob Gaudio, singer-songwriter and keyboardist; The Voice finalist Nino Alejandro as Nick Massi, bass player; and singer-actor Markki Stroem as Tommy DeVito, a founding member of the band.
Each pursuing careers in local showbiz as solo artists, the talented singers shared their excitement in being able to work together as a “legendary group” for the very first time. They also acknowledged many challenges in the process of putting the musical together, but they all agreed that the lessons they gained from the experience are what matter most.
“What I learned about being part of a group having a common goal, in this case, the sound of the Jersey Boys where we each play a part,” Bautista volunteered during the musical’s press launch on September 14 at Marco Polo Ortigas.
“Yes,” Stroem agreed, “because it’s not just about being individual artists or the music but like Christian said about how we sound together. For that to happen, it’s good we all forged a relationship ad got along—whether doing funny stuff back stage or playing card games. It’s a lot of fun hanging out and talking before going up on stage and performing together for the very first time.”
Asked what kind of fulfillment they get from theater, especially since they all started their careers on TV and with mainstream music, Volante, Bautista, Alejandro and Stroem were again in agreement that the “immediate gratification” in performing for a live audience is incomparable.
“Other than that, there is something about having no cuts on stage, which really adds to the education of being an actor or singer, or dancer or host, essentially because there is no way to hide from any mistakes for two and a half hours. And for something like this—for Jersey Boys—the scenes are so quick that they’re really difficult to get through. But like everyone said we all learned so much and grew as an artist, so it’s safe to say I really enjoy theatre,” Alejandro explained.
Volante, who has taken on numerous lead roles in Atlantis’ productions similarly shared, “Being in theatre for so long, I really appreciate the system as supposed to what I really do like concerts, shows, TV. Theater offers a different kind discipline that none of the other mediums equire. Your attitude will change because of theatre and of course, for some reason, people look at you best when you perform on theatre, simply because of the level of difficulty. When you’re in theatre you should dance, act, sing. But I’m not saying that people from theatre are automatically better than any forms of art,” he was quick to clarify.
For Jersey Boys, Volante, Bautista, Alejandro and Stroem worked hard to master the sound and the moves of the iconic crooners of the ‘60s. Jersey Boys features the music of Bob Gaudio, with lyrics by Bob Crewe, who was the Four Seasons’ real-life record producer, and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice.
Set to a generation of hits, the musical shows how the Four Seasons got together, through their meteoric rise and descent via four symbolic seasons, told from the different and often contrasting points of view of the band members.
The group’s most popular songs include “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Working My Way Back to You,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” “My Eyes Adored You,” and “December 1963 (Oh What a Night).”
According to the “Filipino Jersey Boys” they underwent a very long process to replicate the characters and the voices of each of the group’s member. They were first instructed to research who their respective characters are and then “put a little bit of themselves” in Frankie Valli and company to avoid coming across as too mechanical or robotic in their performances. Such has been the criticism in past Jersey Boys musicals and movies.
“We cannot just simply invent our characters so thank God for the internet because there are a lot of clips, videos, interviews there. Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio are still alive! We also watched the movie so it helped,” Bautista shared.
Added Stroem, who revealed their research went as far back as the characters’ birth, “It’s a great experience to understand where they came from to see why and where they go in the end.”
Asked what will make Filipinos fall in love with the Jersey Boys, Alejandro quickly replied, “You’ll see the beauty in the simplicity. The show is genius because the songs are simple, even the chords, but these iconic singers are able do so many things when it comes to melody and harmony. The music makes you very creative as an artist, and for an audience, it’s amazing to watch,” he ended.
Jersey Boys goes onstage at the Meralco Theatre on the weekends of September 23 until October 16. For inquiries, log on to www.ticketworld.com.ph.