We’re so excited to post not just one, but TWO spectacular reviews of Daniel Robert Sullivan’s marvelous memoir, Places, Please! Becoming a Jersey Boy below by our extraordinary JBB Special Correspondents Audrey Rockman & Howard Tucker!
By Audrey Rockman, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent
This is a seminal and overdue moment for the worldwide Jersey Boys family. Most of us gave up some time ago on the rumored controversial book by Tommy DeVito. And who knows where things stand with the movie that has been talked about for enough years to see the original JB cast using the Actorsâ€™ Equity retirement benefits. So what is there for those of us ready to snatch up something new and, in this case, with such diversified appeal? Get out your credit card and beach supplies, because hereâ€™s something to add to your summer reading list. Daniel has obviously spent countless, thoughtful hours recording the process of â€¦ Becoming a Jersey Boy.
Although Iâ€™ve penned almost 30 articles on the JB Blog, Iâ€™ve been virtually quiet for the past three years until I heard about Danielâ€™s book. Yes, I was one of those fans determined to see the Toronto cast before the final curtain (could that have been me Dan was quoting on page 186, â€œHey guys, we donâ€™t mean to interrupt, but we just wanted to say good luck to you. We drove up from New Jersey to see you tonight!â€ Nahâ€¦.that must have been Howard Tucker—although he needs no last name). After that thrilling final performance, I made a point to drive along the Connecticut coast with friends Howard and Lulu to see Sullivan when he starred in â€œOne Flew Over the Cuckooâ€™s Nest.â€ It turned out that, despite the three hour ride, one performance was not enough and I made the trek a second time. (At least his hair color wasnâ€™t an issue in this production, unlike the ever-present hair topic through his early time with Jersey Boys.)
You know how it is when you get so excited to share something that the words seem to trip over themselves? Well thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve been experiencing after finishing this book; thereâ€™s so much to say about whatâ€™s tucked inside. There are hints about the elusive question of salaries and what the internet offers up if one looks deeply enough. And for long term fans, Dan makes mention of the original Broadway cast and what can still be learned from them as well as a perspective on soon-to-be Broadwayâ€™s DeVito â€“ returning cast member Jeremy Kushnier.
The reader gets a jumpstart in the third sentence of the first chapter with industry audition information â€“ about which I knew nothing. Daniel gives fascinating details about the process and equally engaging is the rehearsal process with a personally assigned coach as well as tales of rehearsing simultaneously in real time with the show â€“ on an adjoining stage. The journey is thorough and meticulous â€“ and to think that each of the actors playing these roles are going through this. I canâ€™t forget to mention the beautiful foreword by Dancap Producer Aubrey Dan â€“ or as Sullivan likes to refer to him â€“ â€œa gazillionaire businessman and philanthropist â€¦â€
Before you know it, Daniel has introduced us to the love story which is the backdrop of his daily life. Cara, who goes from girlfriend to wife, is the perfect romantic female lead, offering calm support, patience, loving surprises and well placed counsel â€¦ â€œBut, [Cara] how am I going to get to know them if I donâ€™t friend them on Facebook?â€ Cara, â€œWell, you could talk to them.â€ And near the end of the book, I found myself in suspense as Daniel struggled to reconcile being at the Emmys for Caraâ€™s big nomination or at the Toronto cast that final weekend of the show, as required of everyone by the producers.
Like any good work of art, this book will find you wherever you are â€“ either as a curious fan, wondering how actors strive to find an edge (or why Jeff Madden wasnâ€™t at the 2009 Tony Awards with the other Frankies); or as an actor hoping to find support for the endless auditioning; or as a member of the creative team wishing to peek inside those they mold and inspire; or as a cast member who would love someone else to put into words what life, touched by Jersey Boys, is really like â€¦. OR as anyone who makes precious relationships a significant priority. No matter what population you fall into though, thereâ€™s lots of non-stop humor for everyone.
Humor takes on a different angle though, if youâ€™re an 8 year old girl wanting desperately to share something from her â€˜evening at the theater.â€™ Caraâ€™s daughter has been well coached about all those four letter words â€˜we NEVER repeatâ€™ (except when youâ€™re an actor onstage), so young Rachel concludes that something which has been explained as an â€˜adult jokeâ€™ might be better suited for sharing with her teacher. Surely the nun at her Catholic school would appreciate the line that seems to make every audience laugh so hard, so she whispers – on tippy toes – in her teacherâ€™s ear, â€œI want you inside me.â€ Kids always seem to find the weak link in our coaching.
With so many new smidgens of show insight, it will make you want to go back to a Jersey Boys theater â€“maybe this time with a stop watch (youâ€™ll understand after you read the book), to see a brand new layer revealed by this masterful and candid storyteller. Daniel Sullivan notes that â€œthe show really is a tidy knot of perfectionâ€ and Iâ€™d say that, â€œPlaces, Please!â€ follows this tradition!
By Howard Tucker, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent
Dan, you ought to be so proud of “Places, Please!: Becoming a Jersey Boy.” It’s not only valuable for those in showbiz, but for all of us as a guide to life in general. I love the way you focus on auditioning as well as your craft itself, often with funny and poignant anecdotes. You give us story after story on an unbelievable journey from the beginning of your â€œJersey Boysâ€ adventure to your last incredible night in Toronto and your subsequent promotional performances throughout the world promoting â€œJersey Boys.â€ I admire your not being afraid to address your mistakes as well as your successes. You delve deeply into your conversations with your auditioners and mentors. You give us priceless information which we donâ€™t learn in school.
You’ve even told me how to go about finding an apartment in Toronto and advised me to have a CPA prepare my taxes if I ever work in another country. (Ironically, I’m a CPA myself!!)
Move over, Mama Rose: your guidance and efforts when it comes to persistence are mind-boggling. Sometimes I wish I had put forth that effort in my earlier business interviews for those finance jobs. Who knows what it might have led to?
But what Iâ€™m really eager to hear more about is your time as a telephone psychic when you had some downtime in NYC- still waiting for my answer from Doris Day for over 50 years as to â€œWill I be happy? Will I be rich?â€ (from Dorisâ€™s signature song â€œQue Sera Sera: Whatever Will Be, Will Beâ€).
You were kind enough to interview many of us fans for our thoughts and opinions about what makes â€œJersey Boysâ€ so special and why we keep returning over and over. You detail a visit to the Belmont Tavern, the old haunt of the original Four Seasons, where you expected a quiet dinner, but received a reception rivaling the last night in Toronto! Finally, you give us â€œfull company notesâ€ with comments and thoughts (often tongue-in-cheek) of your colleagues, such as James Gandolfini playing Frankie in the future movie, John Lloyd Young releasing a CD of Neil Sedaka covers (actually not a bad ideaâ€¦.would love to hear his take on â€œCalendar Girlâ€) and Frankie acting out his â€œrunning all over the map like a cockroach.â€
I was also there (along with Audrey and many other fans) the very last night in Toronto and your documentation (literally by the minute) and the ten-minute standing ovation took me back to one of the most wonderful evenings in my life. And yes, I was one of the interlopers that disrupted your last dinner, but I did end up with a picture I’ll treasure forever.
Dan, you’ve written a masterpiece and a bible for all of us-not only for young actors like yourself but for aging baby-boomer accountants like myself. Now, if you could only teach me to lower my speaking voice a few octaves to sound like Quinn Van Antwerp (the current Broadway Bob Gaudio) whom you say created his own earthquake in NYC while auditioning) so I at least sound authoritative to my colleagues!!
To purchase Dan’s book, visit IguanaBooks.com.