November 9, 2006

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Jersey Boys National Tour Cast Member Melissa Strom!

November 9th, 2006

Melissa Strom

Jersey Boys Blog is thrilled to present an interview with Jersey Boys national tour cast member Melissa Strom, who will be playing Francine (and other roles!) in the musical. Melissa talks about how it all began for her; what inspires her as an actress; her new journey as a cast member in the Jersey Boys national tour; and so much more.

JBB: Congratulations on landing the role Francine in the national tour of Jersey Boys! How did you find out, and what did you do right after hearing the big news?

MS: I had just gotten back from the NYC callback and I yelped in my manager’s ear for a good five minutes. I also recall lots of jumping! Then I played family phone tag for two hours, calling and returning messages. Everyone was thrilled. That afternoon, my friends treated me to champagne and watermelon.

JBB: Tell us about yourself. What sparked your interest in acting and musical theatre?

MS: Simply put, as soon as I was potty trained I started dance at age two. Up to that point, I was watching my two older sisters through the dance studio window. Out of all my activities, dance was my favorite. It was a serious commitment that was fun. My parents were constantly taking us to musicals, movies, and art museums: there was never a dull moment.

JBB: Who were your early inspirations?

MS: I am a Plano, Texas transplant by way of Raleigh, North Carolina and Colorado Springs, Colorado who currently resides in L.A. I had amazing teachers at my studios in those cities that inspired me to pursue the arts as a career. My professors at USC School of Theatre taught me that talent is never enough, and that if I worked my derriere off. I could do anything.

JBB: When did you first realize your dream of becoming an actress?

MS: In high school, I auditioned for the Dallas Summer Musicals touring production of Music Man. I grew up seeing the national tours come through Fair Park so to perform on that same stage was a dream come true. Earning my equity card through the Music Man jump-started everything.

JBB: How has your career evolved?

MS: In high school, I signed with my first agent in Dallas and started doing print and promo jobs. At the same time, I won dance scholarships to NY and LA and scouted out colleges in those cities. While at USC I started auditioning and booking jobs in LA. After graduating, I began working in commercials, TV guest spots and regional theatres and developed my web site.

JBB: Before, during, and after college, you’ve had some very interesting roles in film, television, and on stage. What have been some of the most fascinating roles you’ve played? What have been some of your most challenging parts?

MS: I did this commercial and showed up at 5:30AM, and was greeted by a man who was putting hundreds of silk flowers in the bushes, so the color of my dress popped on camera. I was reminded that it takes many professionals tending to details to make a project successful.

My most fascinating role–Henriette in Moliere’s Learned Ladies. The play is a period piece and I found the language (rhyming couplets and using the fan), social standards and those corsets (Ouch!) to be compelling. If my parents ever try to marry me off…

My most challenging role–In one week, I learned the part of Val in A Chorus Line. “Tits and Ass” was my first-ever solo song. To add to the challenge, the amphitheater was in the airport flight path. During performances, the actors saw red flashing lights in the pit when a plane was about to fly by. The conductor stopped the orchestra, all the actors froze on stage, and the audience ate it up. Now I know how a statue feels!

JBB: Your resume states that you received an award from the International Library of Poetry for a published poem. What inspires your poetry and are you planning to continue writing poetry?

MS: When an idea or thought floats around in my head for a long time, I have to write it down, and it seems best expressed in the form of poetry. It’s not something I try to do, it’s just something I do.

JBB: What motivated you to audition for a role in the national tour of Jersey Boys?

MS: I have great respect for Tara Rubin, the casting director. Her office set up the initial appointment in L.A., and everything sprang from there. After the third audition, I realized if I got to work with the artistic team I’d learn a lot and grow as an artist

JBB: How do you plan to prepare for the role of Francine, and the other parts you will play in Jersey Boys?

MS: I’m big into voices and dialects. So, the first thing I did was rent movies like “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Goodfellas” and recorded all the female voices. I studied my American History circa 1950-1960′s. Singing with my voice coach, taking dance classes and attending acting workshops are continuously a part of my preparation process

JBB: What do you hope to bring to the role(s) you’ll be playing in Jersey Boys?

MS: Well, I hope the real Francine is looking down and giving her blessing. People wait too long to say things that really matter. In Jersey Boys, I hope to entertain and connect with the audience and stir up people’s memories, especially all those baby boomers out there. I hope to hear humming, see tears, and feel the joy.

JBB: What types of music do you like? What’s currently on your iPod?

MS: I have a hodgepodge of thousands of songs that I shuffle. You’ve got to mix it up: Jazz (all the swinging divas & the Verve Remixes), Outkast, classical (Saint-Saens and Copeland), Bowie, Sinatra, All American Rejects, Stones, show tunes, classic rock (Carol King, Queen), Etta James and lots of Motown!

JBB: What do you know about the Four Seasons’ music? Were you already familiar with their music before auditioning for Jersey Boys?

MS: My dad listens only to “the oldies,” so that’s what I grew up with. I also remember hearing lots of Four Seasons’ music in the movies and at the dance studio.

JBB: What do you think makes the Four Seasons’ music so popular for so many decades?

MS: People identified with the words in the songs that were easy to understand and memorize. It makes people remember and feel alive. People will always be nostalgic about the Four Seasons’ music.

JBB: Do you foresee any differences between the national tour and the Broadway production of Jersey Boys?

MS: We’ll be able to bring this show to people across the country that are unable to travel to NYC. It’s going to be cool to perform in an assortment of beautiful theatres and to meet theatre-goers across the country.

JBB: Have you met, or are you familiar with the work of any of the other cast members in the Jersey Boys national tour?

MS: I did a musical short film with one of the cast members, and some of my friends had worked with other cast members in different shows. And, of course there is always the Internet and MySpace, thanks to Nathan Klau.

JBB: Jersey Boys is the hottest show on Broadway, and it is predicted to be equally successful in its national tour. What do you think makes the audiences feel so connected to Jersey Boys?

MS: I think the show’s music brings people back to where they came from, and the story makes people realize where they want to go. Even if they don’t admit it, people want to be inspired by the sports, music, movies, and theatre they see. When people think big like the Four Seasons and the JB team, it’s always more interesting on stage and off.

Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank Melissa Strom for taking the time for this wonderful interview!


  1. Melissa Strom is a true talent. My only hope is that she has MANY MORE stints on Broadway. Not only can she sing and dance, but the girl is GORGEOUS!

    Comment by E. Bell — November 9, 2006 @ 11:22 pm

  2. A very “real” person. Obviously Melissa doesn’t take anything for granted – very refreshing in this business. I look forward to seeing her performance.

    Comment by R. Drake — November 10, 2006 @ 2:53 pm

  3. When I think of Melissa Strom the first words that come to mind are class and style. Melissa is the lady all the boys want to date and all the gals want to be like.
    Her ability to keep things in perspective will keep her grounded throughout her sky-rocketing career! She is a natural star, and pretty soon the whole world will know it, too.

    Comment by E Snyder — November 11, 2006 @ 8:29 pm

  4. No surprize they brought her in from California,what a beauty. I’ve seen her in several different venues and she’s always lit the stage with her performance and smile. I can hardly wait to see Melissa in the tour show. It’s already recieved so many accolades and I’m sure this bright young star will continue the run. You go girl!!

    Comment by Kitty Carter — November 12, 2006 @ 12:17 am

  5. Your niece and nephew and sister and brother-in-law are anxious for the show to tour through Denver…We are so proud of you! Once the tour starts in SF…the whole USA will be blessed to share in the warmth of your smile!

    Comment by Niki Tygart — November 16, 2006 @ 6:59 pm

  6. Melissa Strom is an amazing actor. I’ve been following her career for a while now, and her performances always blow me away. Keep an eye on this girl, she’s got what it takes.
    -Cristina Barolet

    Comment by cristina barolet-garcia — November 24, 2006 @ 8:49 pm

  7. Melissa, I don’t know if you read these, but you’re splendid. And you can get down on that stage, haha. Brian and I love watching the finale because you 3 really break it down. and I love your use of the word hodgepodge, you’re swell. See you tomorrow!

    Comment by Jess LaRue — February 2, 2007 @ 6:00 am

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