December 12, 2012

JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview: Catching Up With Jeff Madden As He Continues His ‘Frankie’ Journey in Australia!

December 12th, 2012

JB Aussie 12/12
JERSEY BOYS Australia Four Seasons: Declan Egan, Jeff Madden, Anthony Harkin, and Glaston Toft

It was fantastic to catch up with Jeff Madden recently via email during his triumphant run as Frankie Valli in Adelaide! Jeff provides some wonderful reflections about his time in Sydney as the two-show Frankie last year, the exciting offer to become the six-show Frankie with the JB Aussie company, bonding with his castmates, his long-awaited upcoming holiday reunion with his family, and more!

Jersey Boys Blog: Hey, Jeff, it’s great to catch up with you on your Jersey Boys journey in Australia! You had mentioned that you started your rehearsals with JB in Toronto four years ago! Thinking back on those early rehearsal days, what was on your mind as you were learning the ins & outs of the Frankie Valli role? Did you ever in your wildest dreams imagine that four years later you would be across the globe starring in Jersey Boys?

Jeff Madden: It’s great to catch up with you again, too! I almost can’t believe it’s been four years already! Back in my first rehearsals for the Toronto company, I had nothing on my mind except for the script, the score, the resource material, and cramming as much of it in as possible. It was so exciting, but also very tiring – my body was just aching trying to get used to all the singing, all the dancing, all the shouting! So I was very focused on the present, not the future. That said, I remember thinking I’d be happy if we made it through one year – and we doubled that in Toronto, and now here I am back in Australia again, doing my third tour of duty! It’s kind of like Frankie says, ‘like that bunny with the battery, I just keep going and going and going!’

JBB: From our previous JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview , it sounded like your time as the two-show Frankie in Sydney was a simply awesome experience! What are some of your most memorable experiences on stage in Sydney?

JM: Sydney is a fantastic world-class city. I enjoyed every minute of it there, with its incredible waterfront, architecture, cultural attractions, restaurants and nightlife. I had so much fun there. As for my most memorable moment onstage, I’d say my first performance in Sydney ranks at the top of the list. After our production closed in Toronto, I figured that I’d never have the chance to play this amazing role again, and it was very difficult to say goodbye to the show. So when I was offered the Australian gig, I was thrilled. And the rush I had during that first show was unbelievable – feeling the energy from the crowd, living each moment for the first time with all these new cast members – it was just thrilling.

JBB: So, what happened after Sydney? What projects did you become involved in when you returned to Toronto?

JM: I was hired to fill-in in Sydney for a set 3-month period in early 2011, so I knew it was going to be a quick visit. After that, I spent most of my time auditioning for film and television work in Toronto. I did a couple episodes of some Canadian television shows – ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ and ‘Mayday’– and was exploring some new options away from the stage. But the pull of the stage was very strong, so I created a cabaret show for myself called ‘My Life In Song’ and performed that several times between other acting jobs. Then in early 2012, for a change of pace I did two intimate musicals and a play back to back to back, and was lucky enough to get nominated for my second Dora Award for my performance in the Canadian premiere of ‘I Love You Because.’ An incredibly talented friend of mine won this time – but I’m very happy with my statue from winning that award for playing Frankie in the Toronto production in 2009.

JBB: It has been wonderful to see your great reviews recently during Jersey Boys’ run in Adelaide! Shall we call this the “continuing story of a Frankie”? You’re now the six-show Frankie with the Australian cast! Tell us about how this exciting news came about and your experience thus far in the role.

JM: Well, again, it was kind of a shock. After finishing my run in Sydney, I was home in Toronto for over a year, and although I was still keen to play Frankie, I figured once again that I was done with the show. And of course, when you least expect it, the phone rings. Obviously, a position had opened up in their company, and after auditioning across Australia, they made the decision to bring in a more experienced Frankie. A simple phone call from the Australian producers to my agent, and ten days later I’m flying to New York to start rehearsing with the amazing Danny Austin. Talk about how your life can change in an instant!

After my week with Danny in New York, I flew to Brisbane and joined the now touring Aussie company. I quickly tried to fit in as the new guy, learning everyone’s names, learning their tendencies onstage. Six cast members with whom I had worked in Sydney were still doing the show, as well as many crew and band members, so in a way, I felt like I was coming home. Everyone was happy to have me and eager to work with their new Frankie, and I loved every minute of rehearsing into the show with them. So far, it’s been amazing – great fun, great audiences, great weather (it’s summer, remember!)… I’m just so happy to be here.

JBB: What about the Adelaide audiences? How have they reacted to the Jersey lifestyle and the humor within the show? Did the audience really connect to The Four Seasons’ story and music?

JM: All the Aussie audiences I’ve played to – whether in Sydney, Brisbane, or Adelaide – they all love the show. It’s the same as in Toronto – people everywhere just can’t get enough! Standing ovation after standing ovation, night after night. I’ve already met people who have seen the show ten times since I’ve been here. That’s one of the amazing things about this story – everyone is fascinated by the rags to riches story, by the amazing music they created, and by the struggle that Frankie and the boys had to fight through to make it to the top. It’s a human story, authentic, and everyone can relate to it. The Aussies totally get the ‘blue-collar’ street-guys thing. Actually, you’d be surprised by how well-versed the Aussies are with American entertainment, movie stars and musicians.

JBB: Now that you’re the six-show Frankie in Australia, tell us about a typical day. What do you do during the day and what are your usual pre-showtime rituals?

JM: I sleep in till noon, I drink a lot of whiskey – oh wait, that’s Nick Massi ;-) . No, all kidding aside, even though I’ve done this show about 600 times, it’s still a huge task to do it six times a week, week in and week out. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had in my life, and I do not take it for granted for one second. It requires lots of rest, lots of disciplined eating, drinking, exercising, vocalizing, stretching – you name it. I’m never in better shape than when I’m playing Frankie. I’m always in the gym or doing Yoga or vocalizing.

My day actually gets started with some coffee, oatmeal and a long Skype with my family. 10am here is that perfect after-dinner/before-bedtime for my kids, so it’s perfect time to catch up on their day. After that, well, it depends on the day.

Rituals – well to start, I exercise about 45 minutes every day, rotating between cardio, weight training, and yoga. I drink a ton of water. I vocalize in chunks – about 20 minutes, twice during the day, and then once again just before the show. I eat a big meal about three hours before the show – any closer to the show and I feel sick and bloated, any further away and my energy drags during Act 2. Oh, and I also like to physically make contact with my other cast members before the show, just to check in. You know, like High-5s, fist-bumps, hugs, that kind of thing. I started doing that in Toronto, and continue doing it here. Sometimes playing Frankie can be pretty isolating, so it’s a nice little ritual to help me feel connected. Everybody seems to like it.

JBB: You and your castmates get a three-week holiday break after Adelaide and before you re-open in Melbourne. What are your holiday plans?

JM: I’m lucky enough to get to fly home to Toronto and see my family! It’s one of the perks of being on the Aussie Tour, as opposed to one of the US tours. Because Australia is so massive and the major cities are all so far apart, there are a few nice breaks between cities for the cast. The crew on the other hand – they have no such luck! They need at least a week to pack up the show, drive it 1000 kilometers (that’s about 600 miles), and set everything up again in the new city! So, yes, I’m lucky enough to go back home.

You know what Frankie says, ‘Family is Everything.’ I have an amazing wife and two awesome little girls waiting for me to come back home for Christmas and New Year’s. It couldn’t be timed any better, really. All my friends and extended family will be on holidays, so we will have lots of social events and parties to go to. Lots of turkey to eat, lots of eggnog to drink – and since I don’t have any shows to do, I can join in, too!

JBB: Have there been any unexpected surprises or challenges this time as the six-show Frankie? What have you discovered about yourself that you didn’t know before your JERSEY BOYS Australia journey?

JM: Actually, there has been something I didn’t expect. Now that I’m ‘out on the road, a thousand miles from home,’ I can better relate to Frankie’s journey – in several ways, both good and bad. Like Frankie was, I am the single-earner for my young family, and it has been tough going in this economy. I feel a strong pressure to provide for my family by doing what I know best. And playing Frankie in Jersey Boys is certainly one of the best ways I can do that. But, I specifically remember speaking with Bob and Frankie (the real guys!) on separate occasions, and both men advised me to stay close to my family, be there for them. But it’s so tough to balance it all, you know? I wish the show was closer to home.

Also, I’m finding that being on the road this much, loneliness can really start to wear on you. You long to be back home with your family, with your kids. But on the plus side, all this time spent with my new cast members – they’re all such great people – the traveling, doing publicity together, it forms a bond between us that we take right onstage. And the show is actually getting better because of it. It’s a bit of ‘life imitating art imitating life,’ if you know what I mean. So, because of all this, I feel that I am more truthful than I’ve ever been from moment to moment in the show. I feel like I’ve never been better in the show than I am now.

JBB: Those are some amazing reflections, Jeff! Frankie really isn’t exaggerating when he says, “The road is the road.”

It’s exciting to see that the JERSEY BOYS Australia company is making a return visit to Melbourne! Are there special challenges for you as a performer or the company in general when you return to a city that already knows the show? And what about your future with the show?

JM: I’m very excited to be bringing the show back for a return season, as they call it here. Melbourne is the cultural hub of Australia, and as you know the show began its Australian run in Melbourne back in 2009. Personally, there are no special challenges for me or the cast – just do the show to the best of our abilities. Once we open, hopefully we’ll get some good reviews, and once the word of mouth spreads, I’m sure the crowds will come back. I mean, it’s been gone three years – that’s a long time, and this show is definitely worth seeing more than once!

As for the future, the Melbourne season runs from early January until March 24. After another little break, we head out to Perth and run from April 18 until June 30, and then Jersey Boys Australia gets put to bed for good. I’ll come back home to Toronto and see what happens. In an ideal world, Jersey Boys would re-open in Toronto for a nice long run! Or maybe another company will need a Frankie. Who knows, right? Again, I find myself sounding just like Frankie – ‘chasing the music, trying to get home.’

Jeff Madden
Jeff Madden


  1. I have been lucky enough to see Jeff performing here in Australia with the Jersey Boys, several times in Brisbane and I just recently spent time in Adelaide attending the shows once again. This is an amazing production and I would recommend to anyone to go along and see it, they won’t be disappointed.

    Comment by Dianne — December 16, 2012 @ 6:35 am

  2. I have been lucky enough to be able to see Jersey Boys 107 times so far in Australia and New Zealand and Jeff is my favourite Frankie, his singing is incredible. I just wish that the Australian cast could be recorded so that fans like me could have a wonderful memory of such a fantastic show. Don’t know what I will do when it finishes next year.

    Comment by Lynne — December 17, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

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