November 5, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Dominic Nolfi!

November 5th, 2007

Photos 1-3: Courtesy of Audrey Rockman; Photo 4: Courtesy of Kathy Bartsche

By Howard Tucker, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

The enormously talented Dominic Nolfi joined the La Jolla cast of Jersey Boys three weeks after it opened, when the public demanded the La Jolla run be extended. Dom presently covers the roles of Bob Gaudio and Tommy DeVito and has covered Frankie Valli as well. Before his evening performance on Friday, October 12, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent Howard Tucker was honored to sit down with the affable actor and singer to discuss his upbringing, his career, his great six-year relationship with choreographer Sonia Iannetti, and most of all, his huge ride to success in the megahit Jersey Boys.

HT: You grew up in Pacifica, CA, Dom, not too far from San Francisco. Talk to me about your genesis in the entertainment business and in musical theatre. Do you come from a musical family?

DN: Yes, I do. My grandfather is a singer. He’s 90 now and he still sings! He sang on 52nd Street in NYC in the Onyx Jazz Club before World War II.

HT: Wow! Not too far from here, then?

DN: Right. So I feel I inherited my singing abilities from my granddad. And my mother and father met at a dance class at San Francisco State College.

HT: So that’s how you got to be a dancer? I understand you are the Interim Dance Captain in Peter Gregus’s absence. Was it through dancing that you met Sonia, a choreographer?

DN: I’m stepping up while Peter is out. As a matter of fact, I met Sonia, who’s originally from Boston, when we were both doing Grease on tour through Germany, doing all the major cities.

HT: I actually speak German and am in Germany about six times a year for my job as a bank examiner.

DN: It’s a beautiful country and the people have really embraced musical theatre.

HT: They really have. Everyone knows Frankie Valli and believe it or not, most have heard of Jersey Boys. What part did you play in Grease?

DN: Danny Zuko.

HT: Move over, John Travolta! I can’t think of another role that fits you better than Danny, with that great Tommy DeVito swagger on stage. I’ll bet the German audiences loved you!

DN: Well….they make for marvelous audiences….let’s put it that way!

HT: As much as the reputation of the German people is stoicism and seriousness, they really do loosen up at the theatre. I’ve also seen plays in Sweden and England, and I think the Germans are indeed the liveliest of the three. We need to have a chat with the producers about bringing JB to Germany!

DN: (Laughs)

HT: How long ago did you do Grease?

DN: Pretty much most of 2001.

HT: Then you and Sonia have been together a long time?

DN: Yes, we have. She’s a really great lady and has helped shape my life and career. In fact, she worked with me on Tease, a 2007 take on burlesque that I hosted with Daniel Reichard. I loved doing it and we got a great response and wonderful reviews. Here it is on Youtube.

HT: I know you’ve covered Frankie Valli, Tommy DeVito, and Bob Gaudio. As luck would have it, I’ve seen you as Bob Gaudio three times, but never as Frankie or Tommy. I knew from “Broadway under the Stars” last year what a wonderful voice you had on “All I Ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera. Have you had voice training?

DN: I have, Howard. As a youngster, my singing grandfather and my maternal grandparents knew I loved singing and paid for my voice lessons. In fact, I was in a preparatory program at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as a young boy.

HT: You’ve been in Jersey Boys since La Jolla, Dom. What led up to your joining the original cast?

DN: I went to the Boston Conservatory and studied musical theatre. I then came to New York and was cast in my first show, “Pokemon Live.” In fact, I played Ash (pulls out an action figure of Ash).

After a short time in NYC, I moved to LA to be closer to my family and my brother, who was going to UCLA at the time, and is also an actor. This was after I had done Grease, and living in California, had heard of Jersey Boys and went for an audition in La Jolla.

I was called back a bunch of times before the show started, even singing for Frankie Valli, but I didn’t hear anything, so I just moved on. Then, lo and behold, after the show was up and running for two weeks with sensational reviews and press, the producers realized they needed an additional male swing, and so invited me to La Jolla and offered me a part as a swing.

HT: What was your reaction upon seeing the show?

DN: As I drove down to La Jolla, I thought this might just be another jukebox musical, and as such, might not be so great. But when I saw it for the first time, I was so floored by everyone on stage and totally jazzed that I was to be a part of it. That very first night, I thought to myself, I needed to do whatever I could to make a good impression because this show was going to be a huge success.

I thank Rick and Marshall for such a wonderful book and Des for such spot-on direction—and it’s a true story to boot!!

HT: Did you know any of the Four Seasons music growing up?

DN: Oh yeah, big time. I knew all the big numbers. It was when I heard the songs back in La Jolla that the familiarity of the songs really hit home with me.

HT: C’mon Dom. You weren’t even born when “Oh, What a Night” was popular, much less the earlier hits!

DN: Actually, my Dad’s older sister, Aunt Jan, would rival David Cace, Charles Alexander, and Frank Rovello on being the biggest fan of the Four Seasons.

Aunt Jan would baby sit for me, and had all these old original 45’s and she and I would dance to the Four Seasons and Chubby Checker all the time. “Sherry,” “Big Girls,” “Candy Girl,” “Pony Time,” “The Twist,” “The Limbo”—wow, those bring back memories!

HT: Would love some limbo lessons from you; I can’t even get under the first bar! Dom, you’ve covered Frankie, Tommy, and Bob. I’ve never seen you as Tommy but I hear you do a yeoman’s job.

DN: I’m actually half Italian and half French. I can really tap into the Italian background, as I was so close to my Dad’s family growing up, and my uncles were working class Italians. That’s where Tommy, Frankie and Nicky come from, so I really relate well.

HT: Any favorite Four Seasons songs?

DN: In addition to “Beggin,’” I like “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore.” I know Bob Gaudio was looking for a way to get “Sun” into the show, but just never found the right spot.

HT: I just saw Bob and Frankie on “The Today Show” and Bob said that “Sun” was his favorite song. Amazingly, Frankie’s version of “Sun” didn’t even hit the Billboard “Hot 100”; it only “bubbled under”at #128 in 1965, Of course, the Walker Brothers took it to #13 the following year.

Swiching gears, do you have a favorite scene?

DN: You know, Howard, I never tire of hearing my friends John, Michael, and Travis singing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” especially when I’m on the rail as Bob looking over at them.

HT: You’ve been in the show for two years now. Has it gotten any easier?

DN: Yeah, definitely. But being a swing in Jersey Boys, or in any company for that matter, isn’t an easy job.

HT: How so?

DN: We don’t get a lot of preparation time. Actually, John Leone and I didn’t get any rehearsal time until after we opened on Broadway, so it can be very scary. And for a long time, Matt Scott and I covered three Seasons, and to have all that at your fingertips can be stressful at times!

HT: I guess you often need to perform at very short notice.

DN: Yeah, sometimes I’ll just hear in the afternoon that I’m going on that night. The only time we have scheduled performances is when we know someone is going to be on vacation.

HT: Regarding some of your other work, I saw your film Zombie Prom on YouTube.

DN: I actually have a DVD, and that was my entire payment for the film!

HT: Just the DVD?

DN: Yeah, it was a short film for the director’s graduate school thesis.

We filmed Zombie in 2004, and it was shown in film festivals during 2005. It was a 45-minute film, so didn’t really get distributed, per se. But it was well-received in the festivals, especially at a comic convention in San Diego, and won all sorts of awards. It now has sort of a cult following. In thirty years, it’ll be another Night of the Living Dead!

HT: Did you do a lot of theatre besides Grease and Jersey Boys?

DN: I did a lot of theatre in college. My favorites were the musicals Side Show and The
Who’s Tommy
and the play The Art of Success about William Hogarth, the first commercial painter—the first fellow to copy prints.

HT: Any role models in the theatre?

DN: Jarrod Emick and Brian d’Arcy James. Both combine great voices and acting skills.

HT: Sure—I remember Jarrod from The Boy from Oz, but he had a rather small part (as Hugh Jackman’s lover). I saw Brian in “The Apple Tree” revival and look forward to seeing him in “Young Frankenstein.” Two great choices of underappreciated thespians, Dom.

You have a great voice and starred in the recent “Cabaret Cares” at the Laurie Beechman. You were also in Daniel Reichard’s “Glory Daze” and his recent “Kegger” show, as well as Donnie Kehr’s “Rockers on Broadway.” Did you see all the great comments on YouTube after your Phantom rendition? Do you have any plans for your own cabaret show?

DN: Not just yet, Howard. But I do love guest performing for Daniel’s cabarets and with the rest of the JB cast. And no, I didn’t see all the comments; I don’t go on the Internet as often as I should.

HT: Well, Dominic, speaking of the Internet, the fans are screaming. When are you going to update your website, or at least develop a MySpace profile? You might consider a consultation with Dale, the “Tech Half” of the Jersey Boys Blog.

DN: The website is a work in process, and I want to get new headshots before I put it up. I need everyone to “stay just a little bit longer” and I’ll have a site! “Honest, honey….promise, honey…..”

HT: This has been such a pleasure, Dom. Any final thoughts?

DN: Howard, show business can be tough, but I’m just so happy to be in a hit show. I just want everyone to know that I was the first addition to the La Jolla company. I got to watch the show when it was only on for two weeks. It was so special out there and the cast and the whole creative team were really wonderful to me. I’m so glad I got to have that experience.

Moving to Broadway with this whole great group is the proverbial dream come true! I live in Brooklyn, and get to stay in one place for a while. But how do I know I’ve really made it?? I’m now being interviewed by you and featured on the Jersey Boys Blog!!


  1. Howard, what a great interview! What a lucky guy you are, you should be very proud my friend..You know how I love to read what you write, someday a book!!! See you soon..Jody

    Comment by Jody Cardillo — November 5, 2007 @ 11:07 pm

  2. Howard, thanks for this in-depth inteview with one of my favorites. Dominic is so talented and versatile. He is a true asset to the company. You always ask such great interview questions and it seems you have lots of fun, too! Keep up the good work. We expect so much from you now and you never disappoint.

    Comment by Gary — November 5, 2007 @ 11:43 pm

  3. Howard,

    Another great interview. I agree with my friends, Gary and Jody! You do a marvelous interview! You put so much energy and love into everything you do. And you are so funny! Good Job, Howard! IE

    Comment by irene eizen — November 5, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

  4. Dominic, Zombie Prom paid you with a DVD? You were still giving them blue, even though they were paying you s*^t, huh? Great interview Howard, as always.

    And Dominic, you’ve got that right… knowing you’ve made it when you’re featured on the JB Blog!!

    Comment by Audrey — November 6, 2007 @ 12:25 am


    Comment by JAMES PETRECCA — November 6, 2007 @ 12:33 am

  6. Hey Howard:

    Excellent interview. You can make anyone a fan. It has been a pleasure knowing you.

    Comment by Gordon — November 6, 2007 @ 7:57 am

  7. Another fantastic interview, Howard. You have a unique talent for eliciting interesting tidbits from your interviewees lives that they probably don’t normally get a chance to share. Thanks for helping us get to know Dominic a little better. He seems like a teriffic guy – a perfit fit to the Jersey Boys cast.

    Comment by Catherine — November 6, 2007 @ 8:37 am

  8. Howard,

    Thanks for another great interview. Your interviews are always a pleasure to read, and alot like you; smart, funny, and with great heart. I’ve seen Dominic perform and can attest to his talent and charisma.


    Comment by Pamela — November 6, 2007 @ 8:39 am

  9. Howard, Great interview, as always!! Dom is a wonderful performer and it was so great to see him featured. Thank you Howard and see you on Sunday!

    Comment by Wanda — November 6, 2007 @ 9:22 am

  10. I think Dom is so talented and versatile playing so many different parts. I’ve seen him portraying Bob and he does a bang up job. I met him back stage on Sunday and he is so warm & sweet. I’ve seen the show 4 times and I love all the JBs, but I was thrilled reading this interview since it gives Dom the recognition he deserves. He’s a multi-talented performer. Hip hip hurray!!

    Comment by Loretta — November 6, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  11. Dominic Nolfi for Bob Gaudio! AHH!

    Comment by unknown — November 6, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  12. Howard,

    GREAT interview with Dominic.
    I will be checking out his youtube stuff now. You did a fantastic job interviewing Dominic. Thanks for bringing up his web site…I started asking him when he was going to do one back in Sept 2006 even before he started one. I can’t wait to see it. He has fabulous voice & is so nice to everyone at the stage door. You forgot to also mention that he has covered for Michael Longoria & does Joey sometimes when Michael is doing Frankie. We saw that combo in Sept 2006 when JLY was out sick, Daniel was on vacation & Matt Scott covered for Daniel. Travis & Colin weren’t cast in the show yet.

    Again, great interview. Thanks for doing it…you always do a wonderful job. Thank you to Dominic who is a fabulous member of the cast & always so kind to everyone at the stage door. Especially with the young fans. He took a great picture with our then six year old son Peter last Sept and had a nice chat.

    To both Dominic & Howard…KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK!!!!!!

    Stacey S. From Staten Island NY

    Comment by Stacey S. — November 6, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  13. Excellent interview! It’s great to know the cast members in a different light than what we see onstage. Wonder if he has a relative that works for a law firm in Menlo Park, CA….. I worked with someone there with the same last name and is of French/Italian ancestry.

    I also lived in Pacifica, CA as well and it is one of the most beautiful cities in Northern California! Wished I would have known Dominic is from my West Coast “neck of the woods” otherwise I would have chatted it up with him on October 21st.

    Anyone knows what his role would be now since John Lloyd Young is leaving and Michael’s taking the principal lead? Possibly “Bob Gaudio” when Daniel leaves the company?

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — November 6, 2007 @ 11:16 am


    Comment by jennifer — November 6, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

  15. Howard, Excellent Interview!
    Thanks for sharing with us Dominics background. Had I not read this in your interview I would have never known all this info you provided to us.

    Dominic is very talented and I have seen him juggle many roles in the 2 years I have been seeing Jersey Boys. Dominic shares the same love for “The Whos Tommy” that my husband Joe does. Thanks to Domenic for being so kind to us everytime we see him at stage door.

    I enjoyed this interview, Thanks Again Howard!


    Comment by Damaris Dugan — November 6, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

  16. Great interview Howard and I just want to say that I’ve seen Dominic go on as Tommy twice and I loved his performance as Tommy. I honestly think he should be the replacement for Christian whenever Christian decides to leave.

    Comment by Josh — November 6, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  17. Dominic’s a great talent. I saw him perform at Cabaret Cares with Howard, Audrey & Gary. All I can say is I wish I had seen him perform in Jersey Boys. He’s terrific. Best of luck to you Dominic in all your career endeavors.

    Howard, another great interview. You have an uncanny way of relating to whomever you are talking to and always find a connection.

    Comment by LindaL — November 6, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

  18. Wow–thanks so, so much all for these wonderful comments. And Jennifer Naimo (#14), special thanks for taking precious time from your hectic rehearsal schedule for your Sunday night show to post.

    Dom is amazingly funny and engaging, but the best incident of the taping involved dressing room-mate John Leone. As we were completing the interview, John barreled in to prepare for the Friday night show. He looked at Dom, looked at me, gave a puzzled expression, mentioned something about Stephen Sondheim, and left as quickly as he entered. Dom’s explanation was, “Oh, he probably thinks you’re the new swing replacing Matt Scott and wanted you to have some privacy!!”

    And Linda L, #17, love where you placed the modifying clause noting that Dom performed with Audrey, Gary, and me. Perhaps we can be the next touring group?? Producers??

    Comment by Howard Tucker — November 6, 2007 @ 5:51 pm

  19. Jennifer got it right…Dom is an unsung hero, but here we can sing his praises. Thanks again, Howard.

    Comment by Gary — November 6, 2007 @ 11:23 pm

  20. Great interview, Howard! I loved it.

    Just a little correction for you: Brian d’Arcy James isn’t in YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. He’ll be in the upcoming NEXT TO NORMAL at Second Stage this winter.

    Comment by Elle — November 7, 2007 @ 12:27 am

  21. Good job on the interview Howard with a variety of topics. But you forgot one question. “When are you going to marry that beautiful girl”?

    Comment by Dad — November 7, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  22. I 22nd the “good job Howards” here! I really enjoyed this interview. Dominic sounds so level headed and grounded, I wish him continued success in his Broadway career.

    Oh — by the way, Brian was supposed to be in Young Frankenstein, originally. Brian is from my hometown and I the last time I saw him we talked about the whole thing, he and Kristin Chenoweth were both in the Workshop. Their roles were ultimately recast with Roger Bart and Megan Mullally for the full-blown Broadway production (Seattle try-out).

    Comment by Courtney — November 7, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  23. Howard great interview as always. My question is when are we the public going to be able to purchase an uncut version of the Jersey Boys in a DVD format ?

    Comment by Timothy Ottley from Harlem — November 7, 2007 @ 4:11 pm

  24. Howard, “This may be a record for “comments.”! IE

    Comment by irene eizen — November 7, 2007 @ 9:24 pm

  25. Hi Howard,

    You did it again. So cool. And the feedback! Double cool. I think it’s a record.

    What struck me the most was Dom’s take on being a swing. I recall Rick Faugno saying the same thing – that it is the most difficult job in the theatre. You have to be ready all the time.

    Thanks for this wonderful interview Howard.

    Looking forward to the next one!

    Comment by Angel — November 7, 2007 @ 9:41 pm

  26. Yes, Irene (#24), it’s a personal record and I so thank all for the great support. I’m also so pleased to share those with such an engaging person as Dominic. The verbiage above doesn’t even fully reflect all the humor we shared.

    Dad’s comment (#21) obviously shows there’s a lot of love in Dom’s family. I’m sure he and Sonia are looking at an awesome future!

    Comment by Howard Tucker — November 8, 2007 @ 12:32 am

  27. Well, if it takes him as long to ask the beautiful Sonia to marry him as it is taking for him to get his website up, the girl is gonna be waiting an awfully long time! (hehe…love ya Dom!)

    Comment by Gary — November 9, 2007 @ 10:13 am

  28. Howard,

    I found the description of what it’s like to be a Swing performer particularly interesting. Your interviews are giving me an quite education in theater. Thank you for asking that question.

    Comment by Bron Burda — November 10, 2007 @ 10:16 am

  29. Howard,

    What a great interview. You’re a real talent yourself. Keep us the good work!



    Comment by Elizabeth — November 13, 2007 @ 12:30 am

  30. Gosh, Howard, I guess I make #30 here. This was a wonderfully interesting interview and gave us all a chance to get to know Dominic as more than an actor on a stage. That’s the sign of a good interviewer and an open and forthcoming interviewee. I think you have this down pat.


    Comment by Laraine — November 16, 2007 @ 9:14 am

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