Preston Truman Boyd during his JBB Exclusive Interview at the Keller Auditorium in Portland
We’re so excited to present our JBB Exclusive Interview with Preston Truman Boyd, who has been playing “Bob Gaudio” in the JERSEY BOYS first national tour over the past year! In between his two Saturday shows in Portland, Preston shared stories about his inspirations and passion for theater from an early age, his tour experiences with Young Frankenstein, achieving his dream role in his favorite show, JERSEY BOYS, his life on tour, and more!
Jersey Boys Blog: Thanks so much for chatting with us between shows today, Preston. You were so amazing last night as Bob Gaudio! So, letâ€™s go back, did you want to be in musical theater from Day One?
Preston Truman Boyd: Yes! I grew up and had to make the hard decision of hockey or musical theater and I ended up choosing musical theater, which I think was a good choice (chuckles).
I had a very supportive family. My grandfather was an opera singer who sang in the Roman Italian Opera House in Italy and taught voice at Boulder. Music has been in my family. My dad was a voice major his first year in college, then didnâ€™t want to be like his parents, so he dropped out and went to business school.
I was very, very fortunate, because I hear all these stories about people who really want to make this as a career choice and it ended up not working out because their parents wouldnâ€™t support them.
From Day One, I was very, very fortunate to be raised in the community which was very strong in the arts. Rebecca Meyer-Larson was one of my mentors growing up. She was my high school theater director and she made it seem like the sky was the limit. I talked to a girl who I grew up with who ended up playing Elle Woods in Legally Blonde on Broadway and on tour and she was in Hairspray on Broadway, and Hugh Kennedy, whoâ€™s working with the Guthrieâ€”so there are a few kids from my high school who are doing it.
Itâ€™s always been in front of me and it came to the point where I needed to make choices about where to go to school. I asked Becky, â€˜Where do kids in your cast come from?â€™ So, I ended up in Cincinnati at the Conservatory of Music. Did my senior showcase, moved to New York, signed with the Gage Group, did some readings here and there, was on episodes of â€œThe Guiding Light,â€ and worked at a wine bar. Iâ€™m a big wine fanatic and I will hopefully take my sommelier test when I get back to the city.
JBB: Had we known that, we would have brought wine instead of cookies.
PTB: (Laughs) Then, I had an audition for Susan Stromanâ€™s and Mel Brooksâ€™ Young Frankenstein and got that gig. It was my year and a half into my â€˜New York experience,â€™ as I call it. Then, I did a year there with Roger Bart and Shuler Hensley. Many of the OBC members transferred to the tour, and then I took over for Shuler as The Monster.
I think Bob and the Monster are two completely different roles (laughs)â€¦Thatâ€™s as far apart as you can get, I think.
In the meantime, I had gone to visit my girlfriend [Sydney Morton] who was doing JERSEY BOYS in Chicago. After seeing it years ago on Broadway and seeing it again on Broadway and seeing it again in Chicago, it kind of rekindled my love for the show and for the role, especially. I donâ€™t think I could be satisfied with my life if I hadnâ€™t had a chance to play this role every night. Itâ€™s my favorite show and I get to do my favorite show nearly every day.
JBB: Weâ€™ve heard that nonstop from nearly every one of your castmates as well, that JERSEY BOYS was their favorite show. Why? Is it because itâ€™s a cool guysâ€™ show, or is it something else?
PTB: Yeah, itâ€™s the cool guysâ€™ show, itâ€™s the music, the storyâ€”anybody can relate to anything that happens on this stage on this show. Marshall and Rick did such an incredible job with the book. I call it the perfect show, because there is really not a moment in the whole show that lacks or slows it down at all. Itâ€™s incredible; itâ€™s my favorite show!
JBB: Back to The Monster, was there anything you took from the character that helped you play Bob in Jersey Boys? Or, is that a ridiculous question, considering theyâ€™re so completely different?
PTB: Not at all is that a ridiculous question! In that role, you do about an act and a half without any use of language or words; you canâ€™t express through words what youâ€™re trying to get across. So, I think I really got into my head about ways to ask for things or inform my fellow actors on stage without words. Itâ€™s all expression and internal thoughts. With this eloquent book on top of what I brought from Young Frankenstein, it was a great marriage of what I bring to the show every night.
JBB: And it was phenomenal last night!
PTB: Thank you! Thank you!
JBB: As far as playing Bob Gaudio, are you anything like the real guy?
PTB: I have not had the opportunity and the pleasure to meet Bob yet, but Iâ€™ve been told from a lot of people that heâ€™s much more reserved than Preston is. I think coming into the show immediately, which was one thing that I had to really pay attention to–to not really overdo it, because Iâ€™m very passionate and expressive. Not saying that Bob isnâ€™t passionate, because you can tell from the show that heâ€™s one of the most passionate guys on stage. Itâ€™s really interesting to try to be somebody else who is still alive. And, youâ€™re not necessarily only acting, youâ€™re really trying to be somebody else. That was kind of the stretch for me in the beginningâ€¦.being a little more reserved and to still pack that same punch that Bob does, but do it in a way with some stillness and some power that I donâ€™t really do in my everyday life.
JBB: It had to be really hard to really tone it down, wasnâ€™t it?
PTB: Yeah, it was, because when youâ€™re an actor and you know that you have more to give, itâ€™s really hard and almost frustrating. So, I had to figure out a way to be satisfied with that â€¦and I really haveâ€”and I have felt really comfortable in Bobâ€™s shoes, now. Who knows? Maybe some of that may trickle down into Preston somedayâ€”definitely another role I could play someday (chuckles).
JBB Tech Half: So, in that respect, do you feel like you have to be more dramatic, as opposed to more expressive?
PTB: I donâ€™t know any other way to say it other than just stillness. The gusto is still there, but it comes from a still place and thatâ€™s what I had to find.
JBB Tech Half: Preston, Frankie says, â€˜The road is the road.â€™ Weâ€™ve been asking your castmates to share their most memorable road story. Whatâ€™s yours?
PTB: When I was in Young Frankenstein, Susan Stroman told the cast collectively, â€˜You are all tourists; donâ€™t forget how fortunate you are to be in the shoes you are in.â€™
I have a zillion friends in New York who are still pushing pencils and waiting tables, doing all that stuff. To have the opportunity to travel the country, to see landmarks, and to play golf courses that are on my bucket list, Iâ€™m 26 years old and Iâ€™m already checking so many things off. Itâ€™s really incredible; Iâ€™m so fortunate to not necessarily be just working, but to be doing this in this fashion.
Ultimately, I would love to be on Broadwayâ€”thatâ€™s one of my goals, but this is what Broadway is to me. And, instead of being trapped in New York, Iâ€™m going to Portland, Iâ€™m going to Vancouver, going all over the country. Itâ€™s really special.
JBB: Who knew you were a golfer? Maybe you two could have done nine holes this morning before the matinee (chuckles)?
JBB Tech Half: Where have you played that was on your bucket list?
PTB: TPC Sawgrass, Torrey Pines, Frenchmanâ€™s Reserve down in Florida, Medina, Southern Hills in Tulsa. I played on the high school team growing up.
JBB: Wow, you were in all those sports in high school, in addition to all of the theater?! You sound like you were an amazing overachiever with all those talents!
PTB: I was a psycho in high school (chuckles); I did way too much and had a great time! I played on high school team.
JBB: Youâ€™ve been so many places on two tours. Do you have a favorite city?
PTB: I really loved Chicago and really loved San Francisco. Iâ€™m a big foodie guy, tooâ€”so every time I go through Chicago, I try to eat at TRU, one of my favorite restaurants in the country. Itâ€™s nice to have gone through these cities before, then to come through with another show, and then you got your list already made out.
JBB: What have you learned about yourself playing Bob & being with this tour that you didnâ€™t know before?
PTB: Thatâ€™s a good question. I think doing a show like this, you gain a little more trust of yourself. Thereâ€™s a lot of material in this role and itâ€™s very fast and itâ€™s really unlike any other show and thatâ€™s why so many people are drawn to it. Every actor has a little bit of doubt when they first get the job and start rehearsals and join the company. I remember just coming out to join the company and Quinn [VanAntwerp] is a friend of mine from before. Quinn is a great guy, so he kind of gave me a couple of pointers, some secrets, and some great tips and such. He really helped me with my confidence joining the cast.
It was such a welcoming family here at JERSEY BOYS. So, when I hit the stage that first night and I got that sophomore show out of the way, which the second show is always the tough one. Then I got through that first week, and I got to enjoy some of the parts more and not be a complete nervous wreck on stage (chuckles). Now, itâ€™s so comfortable. Like I said before, Iâ€™m so comfortable in Bobâ€™s shoes. That first two weeks when you join a company, is really a growing process and I learned to trust myself, I think.
JBB Tech Half: I need to go back to golf (Preston laughs). I keep seeing more sports analogies between being an actor and an athlete. So, in that respect, youâ€™re offstage for half of the first act. So, youâ€™re waiting to tee off, do you have the first tee jitters?
PTB: I will say that I generally donâ€™t hit balls before I tee off and a lot of people do. I feel like when I come to the theater, itâ€™s more about saying hello to everyone, how was your night, how are you feeling today, that kind of thing. When you enter that atmosphere on stage, theyâ€™re still your friends and your co-workers. Yes, theyâ€™re another person at the time, but when youâ€™ve checked in and said hello and I make sure that Iâ€™ve done that. Obviously, I have to do a little vocal warm-up and sometimes I say my first four or five lines just to get my brain going, but I donâ€™t do much of the woe is me, read a sonnet , or listen to The Four Seasons.
JBB: Letâ€™s go back a little to your audition for JERSEY BOYS. Do any memories that stand out?
PTB: I remember having dinner with Drew Gehling. Drew is one of the nicest guys in New York City and he was so cordial and kind of told me some things about the audition. Merri Sugarman, who cast the show with Tara Rubin, had cast me in Young Frankenstein, so that little comfort of walking into the room really helps when youâ€™re going into a room instead of seeing a face you havenâ€™t seen before. It really helped get the jitters out, like you said. Theyâ€™re always there. You ask an actor if theyâ€™re still nervous; theyâ€™re lying if they tell you no. Thereâ€™s at least a split second of nerves during a show; sometimes a line will leave your head for a second.
I remember when Des [McAnuff] was in my final callback. I had never seen him, obviously never had spoken to him before. He saw my special skills on my resume and he said, â€œOh you played hockey.â€ So, we talked hockey for a split second and that totally just lifted the cloud. Just like I said before, you join the stage; itâ€™s nice to just check in with people as human beingsâ€¦as opposed to the director, or the auditionee.
JBB: It seems like cast members in companies really develop a special bond quickly, is that true?
PTB: These are my best friends of the moment. Weâ€™re on tour with our family and that definitely translates. When youâ€™re doing a show about four guys who are on the road doing a show, life imitates art and art imitates life. Weâ€™ll be out at a restaurant and [John] Gardiner will say something and youâ€™ll say, â€˜Tommy would say that!â€™ Then, youâ€™ll be on stage doing a scene and Iâ€™ll flashback to a week ago to something that happened. Thatâ€™s what makes it really, really exciting and interesting every night and thatâ€™s what keeps the show fresh, ultimately.
JBB Tech Half: What do you think youâ€™ll miss most about your life on tour when you decide to go back to New York City?
PTB: It is leaving your family and your friends, in a way. I will miss the experience of touring the country, thatâ€™s been very nice. I hate living out of a suitcase, but itâ€™s all give and take. If I have to live out of a suitcase to enjoy the country, Iâ€™ll do that. I will miss my friends, but I will be joining my other friends in New York again, but itâ€™s a very different atmosphere. Once you step off the plane at LaGuardia, you put your hustle shoes on again and itâ€™s really fast and quick. I feel like Iâ€™m able to relax a little more on the road. Iâ€™m going to make a point to head north a little more when Iâ€™m in the city to camp, hike, and do stuff like that. We did some unbelievable hiking and camping when we were in Banff. Thereâ€™s something very spiritual and refreshing about looking out and seeing nature.
Preston Truman Boyd will be ending his JB first national tour run on September 9. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors!