August 22, 2007

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With J. Robert Spencer!

August 22nd, 2007

Bobby Spencer

Our trip to New York began on a high note with an amazing interview with Bobby Spencer before his Friday, August 3rd evening performance! It was great to hear what’s going on with Bobby’s film, “Farm Girl in New York” and what it’s like to be a new dad with his son Geddy. It was also incredible to find out how Jersey Boys and the Nick Massi character have evolved since the early days back at La Jolla Playhouse.

JBB: Hey, Bobby, great to see you! What’s been happening since the last time we chatted back in May?

BS: The film (“Farm Girl in New York”) is done! All of it is done. We’ve been sending it out to festivals. Right now it’s a matter of waiting for the notification of possible acceptance for their festivals. We won’t find out until September, so it’s like this right now (Bobby twiddled his thumbs).

But, I tell you what, I’ve shown it to a lot of people in the business, and the feedback’s been nothing but awesome, honest to God. It’s been really, really great. I’m thrilled with it; everybody is thrilled with it. We’ll cross the next bridge when we come to it, and hopefully, we’ll come to a nice long bridge in September.

JBB: How ‘bout Jersey Boys?

BS: I love the show, still. Audiences still love us; people still come back a hundred times!

JBB: Your son Geddy was born in January. Any wild and unexpected surprises as a new dad?

BS: My wife and I just love being parents! Just every day is a really great moment. You know, I’m constantly playing the guitar for Geddy, and he just loves it. I’ve been playing the guitar for him every day since he’s been born. So, whenever I show him concerts on TV, like Rush or Led Zeppelin, or just turning to the VH-1 Classic station—the moment he sees someone playing Daddy’s instrument, he freaks out. My son does this thing when he gets excited (Bobby gave an excitable look). Not only do I play it, but I always set the guitar near him, so he can reach out and touch it and feel the vibrations. I’ll lay it on his lap. I’m always hitting it—mostly strumming it, doing a little Eddie Van Halen–anything so he can hear all the differences that this particular instrument can do.

The other day, I guess it was about a month or so ago, I had the guitar on his lap and I was sitting behind him—he was right here (motions). He literally took his hand perfectly, (Bobby made the ‘Prrrrrrrinnng’ noise) with all fingers and all strings. I said, ‘Good, Geddy!’ I called over to Jenny, my wife, who was across the room. He did it for about ten minutes. He wasn’t picking; he wasn’t slapping. It was perfectly controlled. He does it all the time now. We try to give him so much artistically.

JBB: Your wife is a dancer, right?

BS: Yes, she’s always dancing for him. He just sits around and laughs. She’s a beautiful dancer—he loves it! He loves to watch her dance, so we try to give him a lot artistically.

JBB: Considering you’ve starred in Jersey Boys since it began at La Jolla Playhouse, how do you think the show has evolved since the early days?

BS: I think the four of us have evolved and grown closer, more melodically and with our chemistry. I feel that the whole cast has grown closer now, more than ever before. We’ve always been close, and we’ve always gotten along, but there’s definitely more of an environment where it’s definitely a lot of brother and sister kind of stuff. And, if someone is in a bad mood, which happens, you just call ‘em on it, like you would call your sister on it. Like, ‘Stop being a jerk!’ and then back at you, ‘Stop being an asshole!’ ‘Like you are, no you are…’

It’s not a bad thing; it’s a great thing, because that’s just how we are. We’ve become that close—it’s just a family. It’s evolved into more of a family—now more than ever.

We’ve had some wonderful additions to the family with a lot of new guys coming into the group. The new people coming in are still maintaining the originality and the respect for the show and for the way it has to be done—which is the original way, which is our way, being how we originally worked on it with Des, Marshall, and Rick.

JBB: How has Nick evolved from the La Jolla days?

BS: I think he’s gotten less theatrical. When you’re on stage as an actor, there tends to be an essence of theatrics—because you are on stage, as opposed to film or TV, which is a completely different avenue of the craft. I feel it’s gotten more subtle and I think it’s just a stronger presence when you just kind of hold your own.

I had a fan tell me the other night, ‘You need to talk more.’ She said to me, ‘I really wish you’d talk more; I love your character.’ I laughed and told her, ‘No, I’m fine the way I am. I don’t need to say much.’ That’s the whole key in the love of the part—the less is more factor.

JBB: What do you think are Nick’s best attributes?

BS: His healthy skin, his dazzling smile, his piercing brown eyes…(chuckles)

JBB: And, his humbleness, too?

BS: (Laughs) Right, thank you for catching that! His attributes are the just same as always. His musicality was always the first thing that impressed me the most about him.

The thing I love about Nicky is that to this day, people still come to me at the stage door, not every day, but every now and then, you get a gem that will say, ‘I knew Nicky…blah blah blah…he used to do this’…and they give you just another little bit of Nicky for you; to make you go, ‘That’s cool.’

JBB: So, you’ve had guys that Nicky knew way back when and have shared their stories. That must be amazing!

BS: It is…there’s always something new that you learn about the guy…it’s great.

JBB: What do you think Nick’s role was in the dynamic of the Four Seasons? How did they succeed thanks to him?

BS: They succeeded because he was the original vocal arranger on those original tunes. They succeeded because he was the key to getting the sound started. Gaudio came in and is the key to finessing the sound and taking it to the next level.

JBB: How have you grown as an actor, a performer, or as a person since starring in Jersey Boys?

BS: Yes, I have grown in all of the above. I just don’t feel like you only can grow as a man or separately grow as an actor. You have to be connected to all of you. I feel that it’s all one connected globe–my acting, my directing, my musicianship, my family orientation. It’s been constant growth every day. We grow every day until we die. That’s what’s so great about life. Every day is completely new; it really is. You have to go about it with the most positive energy you can to achieve the best that you can.

Thank you so much to Bobby Spencer for this wonderful and insightful interview! Each time we meet with Bobby, it is always amazing to see how much more he has discovered about playing the role of Nick Massi! All the best to Bobby as he continues to thrill audiences playing Nicky, with his film, “Farm Girl in New York,” and in his future endeavors!


  1. I love hearing about Bobby. He is such a down to earth guy and he is very laid back. Its nice to hear his film is doing great and he is very proud of his achievements!

    Comment by A — August 22, 2007 @ 8:33 am

  2. Loved the interview with Bobby don’t get to hear much from him. So happy his movie is finished, hope it does really well and that we will get to see it soon. I love how involed he is with Geddy, when you talk to Bobby about Geddy he just beams, it is so cool. It’s nice how he talks about all the guys being a family, it really comes thru. You are great as Nick Massi. Love all the guys.

    Comment by gail drouillard — August 22, 2007 @ 9:33 am

  3. This was a wonderful interview. We all love to learn personal things about the actors. Bobby’s balance of family and career(s) is inspirational. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Comment by Catherine — August 22, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  4. Excellent interview! It’s so nice to know someone, via e-mail, that is an important part of a Tony Award winning play! Even though he’s a huge star, he always stays grounded and is such a nice person to everyone, as evidenced by the stories we share about Bobby on the blog!

    The best thing is how he learns more about “Nicky” from people that actually knew him back in the day! That probably brings him more spiritually closer to him than ever! That’s why he’s perfect for the part!

    Also, after watching the CBS Sunday Morning feature on the Jersey Boys and original Four Seasons, he showed so much class when even though he was getting interviewed, he spoke about his castmates and their achievements, while paying tribute to the Four Seasons.

    Thanks Susie and Dale for the informative interview, and we hope to hear more about the trip! I hope you enjoyed your trip, and looks like it’s an excellent idea and trend, having b’day trips that involve watching the Jersey Boys, whether it be in Las Vegas or the OBC for the time mine rolls around….. (hint, hint – to my wonderful, beautiful wife…..)

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — August 22, 2007 @ 1:12 pm

  5. I think someone wants his son to grow up to be rock star. That’s so cute.

    Comment by Catherine — August 22, 2007 @ 3:43 pm

  6. Bobby is a great guy, a brilliant performer and obviously, a wonderful father. I love seeing him at the stage door. He always recognizes me and ALWAYS is smiling. Mike, you really have to meet Bobby and the rest of the OBC. They will love you! IE

    Comment by irene eizen — August 22, 2007 @ 4:40 pm

  7. Thanks for the great interview. I adore Bobby. His energy is amazing. I look forward to seeing his film and following his career.

    Comment by L — August 22, 2007 @ 5:02 pm

  8. I met three of the Jersey Boys in Central Park and I was so upset Bobby wasn’t there.I always thought he would be just the way people described him to be. I look forward to meeting him soon. He has such a great smile!!I too would like to see his Farm Girl film.

    Comment by THEA — August 23, 2007 @ 12:41 am

  9. When I was at the show a couple of weeks ago with Courtney, she mentioned plans to find out Bobby’s birthday. Was I shocked when she came back and reported Feb.12th! My birthday also! When Bobby learned our comomon date, he said… 1969, right? :) Such a charmer… and a good judge of age.

    That photo is so Bobby. He always seems to look truly happy at the stage door. I love the Geddy/ guitar stories, too.

    I wish there was some way to get ‘Farm Girl’ out to us without the whole festival process… like just rent a theater and run with it. I guess patience is a virtue, though.

    It’s nice to hear about the sibling/ family-like relationships amongst the cast, with the typical good days/ bad days stuff.

    The four of you, plus the guys on instruments, really have started your own group… and it’s a great one!

    Comment by Audrey — August 23, 2007 @ 1:25 am

  10. Nice job as always, Susie. And Mike Mag, yeah, Bobby is one of the best responders to e-mail. Great, down-to-earth guy.

    I know I’ve posted it before, but here’s my best Bobby story. When I see the actors at the stage door for the second or third time, although they might recognize me, I’d introduce myself again until they would say, “Yes, I know you Howard”.

    Well, on repeated visits to the stage door, I said, “Hi Bobby, Howard Tucker”, he’d respond back with “Hi, Bobby Spencer”. Finally, after two or three times, I exaggerated, “Bobby, I’ve seen the show 35 times–I know who you are already.” I then added that he reminded me of Hillary Clinton, whom I had just heard speak at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast-wearing a nametag!! (And I did get to shake hands, but didn’t dare admit I knew who she was before I read her nametag!)

    Comment by Howard Tucker — August 23, 2007 @ 1:37 am

  11. To comment on what Audrey said, yes, I did ask when his birthday was. BUT- it was so funny because it wasn’t until two days later (even after Audrey and I had talked about it also being her birthday) when I realized that my brother was born the same day, too! I guess I was pretty star-struck or something, weird since I’ve spoken with Bobby quite a few times.

    I asked him about his birthday the 1st day I was in NYC and each day after that (I saw and spoke with him every day I was in NYC) he greeted me with a “Hey, Courtney!” and he told me he shouldn’t have any problem remembering my name since his niece’s name is Courtney as well.

    Isn’t it great to have such an amazing cast that is so eager to please their fans and actually strive to remember us?

    Comment by Courtney — August 23, 2007 @ 8:53 am

  12. These are the nicest guys on Broadway…and have been since the beginning. I had a photo from the CD cast signing blown up to a small poster size and held it up in the back of a large crowd outside of the Today Show in January of 2006. Bobby Spencer craned his neck until he caught my eye and motioned me over to where the the guys were standing…and said how nice it was to see me again. Last week I saw John Lloyd Young at the Journey to Jersey Boys…he looked at me and said, “I remember you but not your name, please tell it to me again.” Again, so thoughtful, and everytime I see Christian Hoff, he calls me by name. Daniel is also just so friendly…everyone of the JB make you feel genuine appreciated. And the girls are no exception … they greeted everyone personally after their show last week along with Travis! No wonder they have such good and loyal fans:)

    Comment by Lulu Thompson — August 25, 2007 @ 8:50 pm

  13. I agree, Lulu (comment #12), these guys all go out of their way to extend themselves personally. But you seem to have accomplished the impossible with Bobby at the Today Show–you diverted his attention from Ann Curry for a few seconds!!

    Comment by Howard Tucker — August 26, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

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