November 16, 2006

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Jersey Boys National Tour Cast Member Taylor Sternberg!

November 16th, 2006

Melissa Strom

Jersey Boys Blog is excited to present an interview with Jersey Boys national tour swing cast member Taylor Sternberg! Taylor talks about what sparked his dreams to be a performer; what he’s done so far; how his improv training will help him in the many roles he’ll be playing in JB; and so much more!

JBB: Congratulations on becoming a swing cast member in the first national tour of Jersey Boys! How did you find out, and what did you do right after hearing the big news?

TS: Thanks. It’s been an absolute whirlwind. I was actually in London at the time of the call, watching a stage show. I had turned off my phone during the show, and got the call during the intermission (at which time I had turned my phone back on). As you can imagine, it was hard for me to watch the rest of the show as I had Jersey Boys on the brain!

JBB: Tell us about yourself. How did you become interested in singing, acting and musical theater? When did you first realize your dreams of performing?

TS: My mom used to be a performer. She would always sing in the car, and then she would harmonize as I would sing the melody. That’s probably what motivated me at first. As time went on, I did various performing activities, and eventually did theater in high school. I think I remember the moment when I wanted to choose this profession. Entering into high school, I wanted to be a computer engineer, and I took an AP Computer Science class. As time went on, I found computer science more challenging and stressful than I thought, and took it on as a hobby, and performing then became my primary focus.

JBB: Who were your early inspirations and influences?

TS: Well, absolutely my parents: My mother, the performer (and someone who was on the road for the first part of her life as an ice skater), and my father, and his influence of great music, including classic rock. Also, I will always remember my improv training with a great company called “ComedySportz,” which taught me this: “The first step you take should be out of the plane.” They taught me to face fear, and enjoy risk. As a mentor once said to me: “Improv is the bungee jumping of theater.”

JBB: How has your career evolved?

TS: Well, my career is still somewhat fresh, so I don’t think there has been a drastic evolution, but there was a distinct shift in focus from my long stay with “ComedySportz” to the Jersey Boys tour. From doing “Crazy-make-em-ups” to a scripted, musical drama.

JBB: You’ve had some very interesting roles on stage, in film, and on TV. What have been some of the most fascinating roles you’ve played? What have been some of your most challenging parts? Any outrageous stories that you’d like to share?

TS: I think the weirdest experience I’ve had was when I was in Blood Brothers in California during the various brownouts and blackouts (we had an energy crisis). There is a long, five-minute monologue that I was about to deliver, and as soon as I said the first word, all the lights went out. At that time, I thought “What do I do?!” So I just walked off stage, and waited for a signal to move on. Eventually the lights went on, and I walked on to start my monologue again. At that same moment, the actors from the next scene came on, and started! So, I walked back off stage, and let them surge ahead. Well, that scrapped my long, sweeping, expository monologue, and the show went on as normal.

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

TS: A lot of people I knew thought that I would look appropriate for the world of the show and kept telling me to audition. As time moved on, I asked my agency to submit me. And, the music is really great!

JBB: Since you will be playing so many different parts in Jersey Boys, how do you mentally prepare yourself, and how much time does it take for you to get into the character before you go on stage?

TS: This is where my improv training has really helped me. In improv, you are forced to make split second decisions. That has certainly prepared me for taking on different, contrasting roles. I usually make a distinct choice as an opener (a gesture, a voice, an accent, a stance), and by feeling out that choice, I can quickly transition into character. Once I have that, the inner spirit kind of takes on a life of its own. And a good deal dramaturgy also helps in a show like this (which we thankfully had, and has made the entire story telling process much deeper and real).

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

TS: I don’t think I got into contemporary music until sixth grade. Until then, I grew up on Los Angeles radio stations that played pre-90′s music. And of course, The Four Seasons were in heavy rotation.

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

TS: I really think that all fans of rock can appreciate the push and pull of blues, and rock is based in blues-styled music. And now, when I listen to the breakdown of instruments, I pick out Bob Gaudio’s piano part, and hear the strong blues influenced riffs. I think because his music is so rooted in these classic rock riffs, everyone who likes that push and pull can get into it.

JBB: What’s your favorite Four Seasons’ song?

TS: Jeez, what week is it? Before the show, I really always gravitated to “Dawn,” “Let’s Hang On,” “Stay,” that kind of stuff. As I started listening to the soundtrack, I really started digging the stuff I hadn’t really heard before: “Opus 17,” “Who Loves You,” and “Beggin’.” “Beggin’” is my current favorite. I really like that solo bass against voice riff in the second verse.

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

TS: I’ve always loved dramatic power rock: Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen, AC/DC, Metallica, The Who, Journey, Poison, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister. Otherwise, my more mainstream favorites are Ben Folds, Beastie Boys, The Darkness, Earth Wind and Fire, Elvis Costello, Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates (who I saw live recently. They still are awesome!), Incubus (who went to my old high school before me), Jurassic 5, System of a Down, Tenacious D (Always great for the road!). And then I have what I call my “deeper cuts”: The Mars Volta, Oingo Boingo, Mr. Bungle (who, to this day, I still listen to, and always hear something new), The Aquabats (Especially when Travis Barker was on Drums as the ‘Baron Von Tito’), Coheed and Cambria, Slipknot (to get pumped!) M.I.A. and Lady Sovreign (From the British Grime Rap style), and Frank Zappa. Yeah, pretty much I like music.

JBB: Prior to the auditions, had you met or were you familiar with the work of any of the other cast members in the Jersey Boys national tour?

TS: I had done a film with another cast member (try to guess which one!) and I saw Deven May in the original company of Bat Boy.

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?

TS: I really think that a lot of people, certainly fans of rock music, have always wanted to be in a rock band. I know I have. And these audiences connect with the long sweeping journey of the Four Seasons. Especially in the first act, where you really see the band struggling. It’s like us when we were in our parents’ garages, annoying the neighbors.

This show feels like a rock concert with the curtains revealing all the inner life. There is rapport created when the audience watches this inner life, and the Four Seasons are no longer immortal, but regular guys, trying to get through life, just like everyone else who has wanted to be in a band.

Furthermore, hearing people react to the words “New Jersey” reminds me of when I was living in Los Angeles, and everyone had their favorite team from back home (not just the LA team). When I went to see Jersey Boys for the first time, I was amazed at how many people cheered for the state of New Jersey, from all walks of life.

And, one last thought. There is a constant tension build in the show, from the amount of time the audience waits to hear that first hit, to the time between the breakup to the reunion scene. All this tension makes the audience want to see the outcome, and ultimately, some sort of completion. Brickman and Elice really have done a number on this script, and in turn, engages audiences of countless sold out shows.

Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank Taylor once again for taking the time for this fascinating interview! You can see Taylor and the rest of the cast members as they launch the Jersey Boys national tour at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco on December 1, 2006! For more information, check out Taylor’s website!


  1. [...] interview with has an exclusive interview with Taylor Sternberg. [...]

    Pingback by - The Taylor Sternberg Website — November 16, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

  2. It’s so interesting to find out about Taylor’s background and how he got into this business. Sounds like the great experience with improv makes him the perfect person for these roles! Will look forward to watching his career! All the best Taylor!

    Comment by JC — November 21, 2006 @ 5:18 pm

  3. Just came back from the San Francisco opening for Jersey Boys.

    I was at the opening in New York as well. Comparing the two, I’d say they are both fantastic. Each cast brings a unique and special flavor to each of the characters.

    What a rip roaring night! I loved it.
    Nicki Conway

    Comment by Nicki Conway — December 12, 2006 @ 4:22 pm

  4. Please tell me how I can get an audition for Jersey Boys in San Francisco…This was by far the best show I have ever seen. I adore the Four Seasons! I’d appreciate the advice!

    Comment by Jenn — January 31, 2007 @ 12:12 pm

  5. Nice meeting you Jonathan. Good Luck in MN!!!

    Comment by Jasmine, NYC — March 17, 2008 @ 9:34 am

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