August 3, 2009

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Jersey Boys Chicago Cast Member Steven M. Goldsmith!

August 3rd, 2009

Steven M. Goldsmith
Steven M. Goldsmith

We’re thrilled to present our second in a series of JERSEY BOYS Chicago cast interviews! In this interview, Steven M. Goldsmith, who plays Joey and is an understudy for the Frankie Valli role, talks about his beginnings in musical theatre, his journey with JB, including some insight into playing the roles of Joey and as one of the Frankie understudies, his favorites from the show, and more!

JBB: Thanks so much for meeting with us, Steven. We’d first like to know about how you got started with acting and musical theatre.

SMG: Honestly, the real reason I started was because my sister was involved in it, but now she is no longer involved. I think my mom was the one who got us to take it as an elective in school so we would be a little more sociable and a little bit more expressive. My sister didn’t really like it, and I fell in love with it.

JBB: What made you audition for JERSEY BOYS?

SMG: I think it’s just one of those things, one of those roles that come along, one of those shows that you just fit the bill for perfectly. Here I am–I’m under 5’8,” so I fit the height requirement, the hair coloring requirement, the voice type, and all of that stuff. So, it just worked out.

It was one of those things I auditioned for like two years, and I wound up getting it. It was like a journey. The first time I went in, I really don’t think that they really took that much notice and I don’t really think I did that great, either. Then, the next time, they called me back in, I worked really hard on the material, and it really paid off.

JBB: Your Joey was marvelous! What did you do prepare for this role to make it your own? What did you do to get there?

SMG: Thank you! Well, you know the funny thing is, when I was working on everything for the audition, they were telling me, ‘You want to make sure you’re good with the Joey stuff, because it can only help you. If we don’t cast you as a Frankie, you’ll definitely be considered for a Frankie understudy, who does Joe Pesci.’

So, I was working with a coach, who was coaching me on all the Frankie stuff. Then, I just read the Pesci stuff once and he said, ‘I’m not going to tell you a thing. I love what you’re doing.’

When I found out that I got it, I went further by watching the “Lethal Weapon” movies, because it seems to me, it really replicates what he is in this show—kind of like a letch, kind of annoying, (does the Joey voice). So, that’s kind of what I based it off of.

JBB: After over two years, what do you do to keep your Joey so fresh?

SMG: It’s interesting, because I’ve been in the company so long and have worked with so many different Tommys. That also keeps it exciting, keeps it fresh, and you find new moments with the different people all the time. It’s really cool, because I found new moments recently with Michael Cunio, our new Tommy, that weren’t there with Jeremy Kushnier when I first started. So, that’s truly cool.

JBB: It’s so great how you guys have ways to keep it fresh, but every night is probably different for you at work, isn’t it?

SMG: It is interesting…sometimes it is a job. As much as we love to do it, it’s still our job. Some days, we don’t have as much fun as other days, like anything else. At the root of it, we totally love what we’re doing, but some days are better than others. Some days, the audience is with you a little bit more. You feed off of that.

JBB: Last night was one of the best audiences I’ve ever seen!

SMG: It was amazing, wasn’t it?!

JBB: Besides keeping the character fresh, what other challenges face you in the role of Joey?

SMG: I would say the big challenge, at least from creative team-wise and the direction: Just be careful not to push it too far, so it doesn’t become too much of a caricature. Everyone in this show is a real person. Even when you’re doing a show that’s based on fictional characters, you still want to somehow be realistic, obviously, but these are people that people know. So you don’t want to go too far with a caricature and just be too big. I think one of the things they’ve tried to steer me away from and has always brought me back down is that you just want to push it so far, but you have to be real.

Joe Pesci is all about wanting the music to succeed. It’s all about bringing these guys together and that’s what you have to focus on. Don’t focus on being a caricature or getting a laugh. As long as you’re connected and really eager about what you want to get done through your objective, the laughs will come.

One of the other things they always say is that you can get very seduced by the audience, because of their laughter, but don’t keep going for that laugh; just keep it honest. It’s hard, because you hear people laughing and you want to go further.

JBB: What about being the Frankie understudy? Tell us about the wonderful parts and the challenges you face when you play Frankie.

SMG: The wonderful thing and the hard thing is that it’s such an amazing role, but you don’t get to do it all the time, so when you get out there and you DO do it, it’s all this energy that you’re just putting forward– mentally, physically, vocally, –just everything is just so demanding that it’s hard to find ways to pace yourself, which I think I’ve found ways to do that after all this time, but even over two years, I don’t get to do it all the time. You find your groove with what you do regularly and what you don’t do regularly, you’re always going to push just a little harder. I think that’s the challenge, especially with this role because it’s so vocally demanding, singing 27 songs, high part of your voice, low part of your voice, and everywhere in between. Then, you get to the end of the show, and that’s when you’re narrating. You’re at your most tired. You’re speaking, you’re yelling, you’re monologging, you’re singing, you’re singing your middle voice, you’re crying.

It’s unbelievable! I’ve done that journey. There’s one time within the first year that I had to do it twice in one day. And, people do it all the time, but for me, that was so tough. Because it wasn’t even so much vocally and physically, which it was a lot of, but I was so emotionally drained by the end of it, that I could not wrap my head around the fact that I was going to be doing it again. When I ran out to that second show, singing “Silhouettes” at the beginning, I thought, ‘Oh My God, this is going to be difficult.’

It’s about knowing when to push, when not to push, when to hold back, when to push a little bit more. That’s an art in and of itself.

There are people who are do it and are completely strong doing it all the time. Our alternate John Michael Dias has gone on twice in one day, many times, but that’s tough!

JBB: What about the favorites in the show? How about your favorite musical number?

SMG: This is going to sound probably a little cliché, but honestly as Frankie’s singing ‘Can’t Take’…nothing’s better than that. You’re on stage with a microphone, singing this amazing song that the audience has been waiting to hear, the way that the score and the structure of the whole script have been put together. Then the horns come out, you turn around and you’re done, and the audience is going crazy! What other show do you get to do that? You get to be standing alone on stage, singing by yourself, backed up by all of these horns!

JBB Tech Half: That’s my mother’s favorite part—when Frankie gets his horns!

SMG: It’s unbelievable—especially since it’s mentioned earlier!

I think one of my dad’s favorite parts—he loves “Can’t Take”–but he LOVES the Ed Sullivan show scene. My dad says, ‘It was like watching the real thing, you, my son, you were up there, my youth, I can’t get over it!’

He also said to me, ‘God, It’s just so cool to watch you do that. How many parents get to sit there and watch their child do that?!’

He’s not even a theatre person, so for him to watch it is so cool!

JBB: I love hearing those stories about your dad! It’s incredible how men in general in the audience react to this show, isn’t it?

SMG: You see some of these men—it’s unbelievable. They’re just emotional messes. These are working class guys in the show and it gets to the end and he loses his daughter. Any man who’s of that generation and knows what it’s like to lose a child who was 22. It’s heartbreaking for anyone, but especially that generation—with the connection of the songs, the story, it’s “The Sopranos” on stage, and then the daughter dies. I think they’re just usually just taken aback by how much it affects them, which is so cool.

JBB: What about your favorite scene?

SMG: As Frankie, one of my favorite scenes is the sit down, because it’s the longest book scene when there’s not music for a long time, and there’s so much happening. Frankie stands up and finally takes control, and it’s just this amazing moment that’s written so well. It’s so hard not to act it well, because it’s so good.

Obviously as Pesci, I LOVE my Pesci scenes. I’m an ensemble member with this amazing feature, and it’s so great to hear the audience laugh and enjoy it.

JBB: Do you have a favorite line?

SMG: I think it would be, ‘Sorry, shut up Joey.’

JBB: You’ve been with Jersey Boys over two years. In that time, is there anything that you’ve discovered about yourself that you didn’t know before?

SMG: I think I’ve discovered that I’m very routine-oriented. For example, I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t get through my entire warm up…almost like a superstition. I feel a bit off during the show otherwise.


  1. Another great interview! I really love finding out about what inspired the actors and how they keep it fresh for themselves and the audience every night. Also really love reading about Steven’s dad’s experience with the show. Thank you!

    Comment by Teresa J — August 3, 2009 @ 11:08 am

  2. I’ve seen Steven in Chicago twice as Joey & he really is funny in the part. Sure hope someday to see him play Frankie Valli in Chicago.

    Comment by Tom — August 3, 2009 @ 3:52 pm

  3. Terrific interview! Looking forward to the next one.

    Comment by Jen — August 3, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

  4. Steven is a great Joey and an amazing Frankie. Thanks for doing the interview!

    Comment by Leanna — August 3, 2009 @ 6:30 pm

  5. Steven does a great job as Joey and a simply terrific job as Frankie. Loved the interview and him getting some recognition.

    Comment by Linda — August 5, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  6. I knew Steven back in high school and he has always been a talented and classy gentleman.

    Comment by Avis — September 30, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  7. I have known Steven ever since he was born. I was there. He never stops amazing me. I love the entire show and have seen him 4 times as the lead. The Ed Sullivan and American Bandstand and Cant Take.., are the best. Looking at the TV monitors on stage is totally awesome, it blows me away. He is just so poised out there. I can relate so much because I grew up with this music and I know every guitar riff, and every horn and organ sound in every song. It is amazing how similar the show sounds to the original music. Cudos to the entire company!!!!!

    Comment by Ken — October 2, 2009 @ 10:20 am

  8. Steven is downright adorable as Joey! I was interested in Steven’s mother saying her favorite part of the show is when Frankie gets his horns. When I saw Jersey Boys in NYC, there was a line delivered, just before the song, by the Bob Gaudio character: ‘And Frankie finally got his horns’. I’ve seen the show 5 times in Chicago and recite that line to myself every time … because it is sadly missing now.

    Comment by Pam48 — January 8, 2010 @ 2:39 pm

  9. Besides being my nephew, Steven is an incredible talent and an incredible person. If you haven’t seen him in his many shows, your missing out.

    Comment by Murray — August 16, 2016 @ 9:43 am

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