March 16, 2008

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Jonathan Hadley!

March 16th, 2008

By West Coast Correspondent Cathi Aradi

Jonathan Hadley was part of the company of Jersey Boys that opened in San Francisco in November of 2007. Although most of that cast will move on to Las Vegas, Jonathan has joined the National Tour and is now wowing audiences all over the country with his portrayal of Bob Crewe. In fact, Jonathan and the JB cast will be heading to Minneapolis, where the show previews Wednesday and opens Thursday at the Orpheum! He’s no newcomer to the role, having filled in on Broadway for Peter Gregus last year. Jonathan brings a wealth of experience to his performance along with a delightful sense of humor and a great passion for
the theater.

JBB: Tell JB fans a little about your background in theater.

JH: Being a product of a family of actors and directors, I started in theater at the ripe old age of 5! I sang and danced my way through junior high and high school all over my home state of North Carolina. I went to the North Carolina School of the Arts to get training in classical and repertory theater and then moved to New York where I started working in musical theater. I’ve done shows on Broadway and off, lots of regional theater and LOTS of tours. Two years ago I decided to go back to graduate school to further my theatrical education. I chose Brooklyn College and graduated from there with an MFA in Directing. No sooner had I graduated than I got the call to come audition for JERSEY BOYS…and here we are!

JBB: You filled in for Peter Gregus on Broadway. How would you compare that experience with touring? (So far, you’ve been in San Francisco and Seattle, then on to Houston and the rest of America.)

JH: Getting to work with the Broadway company came as a huge surprise and was such a great honor. And so much fun! The cast was still almost the same as it was when the show opened. It was so great to get to share the stage with them and to get all the stories from them about how the show was created and about the road to Broadway. (It was also great) to hear the outrageous stories of the real Four Seasons—who they all got to know—and some of the stories that weren’t included in the play! The main thing about working on B’way is that you get to live at home and just hop on the subway and go to work…then go home. And it’s also amazing that at least once a week a random celebrity will show up to see the show. While I was there I met Mandy Patinkin, Bob Newhart and Peter Kris from Kiss. That’s always pretty cool. You never know who’s going to be out there!

JBB: What other tours have you done prior to Jersey Boys?

JH: My first big job out of college was on the First National Tour of Into the Woods, which I did for two years! It was so exciting to actually work with one of my idols, Stephen Sondheim. After that, I think, came Joseph…with Donny Osmond…then Fiddler with Theo Bikel, then several tours of Forbidden Broadway–one of which even went to Australia. I think that’s all, but there may be some smaller ones I’ve forgotten.

JBB: How do you keep your “life” together as you move from one venue to another, new hotel rooms, new cities, new theaters? And does that put added stress on you as an actor?

JH: There certainly is an art to living on the road, and I’ll say that computers and cell phones make it all soooo much easier these days to keep in touch with your life back home. In a long running show like this one, “keeping it fresh” is always a challenge and changing cities every month or so really helps to goose things up. I mean the set will stay the same, but everything backstage will change depending on the theater we’re in. That always makes the first few shows in a city kind of crazy as you come off stage and have no idea how to get to your dressing room…or leave your dressing room and have no idea how to get to the stage!!! But it all adds to the fun. (Unless of course you miss your entrance!)

JBB: How hard is it to leave one company you’ve grown to know well and join another company that has been together for quite awhile? And how do you find your place quickly—i.e., imprint your style, your “performance” on a cast that is used to having someone else in the part?

JH: That’s a good question, and it is exactly what we’re dealing with now. I’ve never been in a show that had this many companies of the same show…it’s wild! So I’ll let you know when I’ve figured all that out. But I will say, I miss both other casts a lot, but am already really enjoying getting to know this next one!

JBB: Your interpretation of Bob Crewe is very elegant with occasional outbursts of high comedy. How did you come up with that?

JH: LOL! I LOVE that I’m elegant! Bob Crewe would love that too, I imagine! Another good question. Hmmm…I think a lot of it came from the beautiful costumes that they custom made for me to wear. I felt so “elegant” getting fitted for my own suit and shirts and that feeling must have filtered into my character. I mean how often do we men get suits MADE for us? It’s such a wonderful luxury! Then the comedy is there, in Rick’s (Elice) and Marshall’s (Brickman) fantastic script. Plus I’m kinda silly in real life so that comes in there, too!

JBB: You appear to be one of the more seasoned veterans in the cast. What is it like being around all this abundant youthful energy? Do they ever ask for your experienced input—whether it’s comments on their acting or just making it as an actor?

JH: Aahhhh seasoned. Yes I am…And proud of it! I’ve earned these few grey hairs!

It’s a real hoot being around all these really talented young actors. They all have such good instincts, that no acting advice is needed. But any advice I have given out has been about things I’ve learned from being in the union for a long time…or about tax questions that are specific to actors…or the advice I got from the older actors on my first tour…SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!!!

JBB: What is your normal routine on a show day?

JH: So far my routine is basically sleeping late…another wonderful luxury!!! Connecting with life back home, going to the gym, doing some sight seeing…which will be fun on the tour…a good early dinner and then a show. How can you complain about that life?

JBB: What do you like to do on your day off?

JH: Catch up on my TV…I’m a Project Runway junkie. You can watch so many shows online. I love it!

JBB: With eight or nine performances each week, what do you do to keep yourself fresh and in the moment?

JH: Always a challenge, but with such good material half of your battle is won right there. Then there’s always a new set of eyes and ears watching you each night who don’t know the story and deserve the best you can give them. And with such a great group of actors you can always experiment…slightly…with new readings or intentions without messing up the whole scene. That keeps things fun.

JBB: What has been your biggest surprise about the Jersey Boys phenomenon?

JH: The fans! Really! I’ve never been in anything this big, and meeting the devoted, wonderful fans we’ve met has been a great surprise. I’m curious to see how that will continue in each city. Another surprise is how much I’ve grown to admire the Four Seasons and their music. They are an amazing part of our American cultural history.

JBB: When one Googles Jonathan Hadley, your name comes up in conjunction with Janet McTeer’s movie Songcatcher, as well as because of Winn Dixie. Your name also shows up as having done some theatrical directing.

JH: Oh yeah…I did some background voices and voiceover work on those films. I get work occasionally doing voice work for Southern based films because of my Southern background. I just did some work on Charlie Wilson’s War because it had scenes in Texas. I’ve directed a couple of shows off-off B’way and at Brooklyn College. My favorites were Much Ado About Nothing at Sonnet Rep and the play of Spring Awakening at Brooklyn College.

JBB: What has been your favorite theatrical experience (so far), and what do you hope to do after you leave Jersey Boys? (Fortunately for JB fans, that won’t be for quite awhile yet!)

JH: Wow…they’ve all been so varied and different. Even the bombs—and there have been a few–have good things that come out of them. But just before JERSEY BOYS, I did a lovely little production of Finian’s Rainbow at the Irish Rep that was very magical. After this amazing show? I have no idea. More acting? Directing? Working for Pesci? Who knows? I’ll keep you posted!

Thank you to JBB West Coast Correspondent Cathi Aradi and the extraordinarily talented Jonathan Hadley for this in-depth and fascinating interview!


  1. Wonderful interview Cathi! Very thorough and indeed fascinating. Jonathan mentioned he’s never been on a show with so many companies. Is Jersey Boys the show with the most companies? Thank you for the interview Cathi!!

    Comment by Angel — March 16, 2008 @ 3:50 pm

  2. Jonathan’s just a joy to watch perform as Bob Crewe. He’s one of my favorites, especially when he’s doing the “play the *&&^$$*^%*&^ song!!” scene. Cathi, another great interview!!! Jonathan always is gracious at the stage door and amazingly remembered me when I was in Houston (could have been the umpteen times we visited with him at The Curran!!) visiting my family last month.

    Comment by LindaL — March 16, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  3. Great interview, Cathi! I thought Jonathan was tremendous as Bob Crewe when he replaced Peter Gregus, who was recovering from a medical procedure last October, in the OBC. Then when I saw him in San Francisco in December, I was once again impressed with his portrayal of Bob Crewe. Jonathan is a lovely person, very friendly and certainly most talented. Hope to see him again soon. IE

    Comment by Irene Eizen — March 16, 2008 @ 11:12 pm

  4. Jonathan is awesome and has good taste in knit caps. :-D

    Comment by Leanna — March 19, 2008 @ 5:20 pm

  5. Delightful interview and wonderful insight into the life of a hardworking and talented “young man” who is the model of perseverance. My (your) family loved the Tampa show – sorry I missed it. We are proud to claim you!

    Comment by Tee — March 22, 2008 @ 9:30 pm

  6. Gooooo Jonathan!!! our big ole family loves you and is so proud!! We got an awesome review from “cuzin’ Robin”. We are so exicited for you! Take care! Jennifer and gang

    Comment by Jennifer — March 27, 2008 @ 2:37 pm

  7. James Lewis Clark, your choral teacher at Myers Park High School, was extremely proud of you. He often talked of your talents and the roles you played in musicals he directed at Myers Park. Although Jim died on May 29, 2008, his memory will continue to live through his talented students. You are certainly one of those students. Thank you.

    Comment by John Brown — February 4, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

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