March 11, 2010

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Rick Faugno!

March 11th, 2010

After seeing Rick Faugno’s fantastic hit show, “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)” at the South Point Casino in January, you guys won’t be surprised, but of course, curiosity got the best of me about Rick’s early days, his new CD, his upcoming solo show, and what it’s like to go from being a performer to a producer. In between starring in JERSEY BOYS Las Vegas as Frankie Valli and rehearsing for the reprise of his one-man show, Rick took some time out for a follow-up JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview!

JBB: Rick, your one-man show, “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)” back in January was truly tremendous! Your incredibly smooth voice and your exhilarating dance moves, along with your personal stories made it an afternoon we soon won’t forget! Since biographies are one of my passions, I honestly adored hearing stories of your childhood, your family, the amazing people you had a chance to learn from during your career thus far, and the icons you’ve always admired.

You had so many great dance instructors—including some lessons from your Dad and Voigt Kempson, from your home town. But what about your training as a singer? At your show, you only alluded to your singing development—singing the melodies while your beloved Grandmother was singing the harmonies. Is your amazing vocal talent something you were born with, or did you have a variety of vocal coaches and teachers growing up as well?

Rick Faugno: Although I started dancing much earlier, I also began singing naturally at a young age. When I began working on The Will Rogers’ Follies at age 12, I started taking voice lessons out of a guy’s home in Sparta, then switched to coaches in the city. I also worked with a vocal teacher who was an opera singer until I was about 17 or 18. She taught me the techniques of how to really sing properly. Then, I had a number of different voice teachers at NYU.

JBB: It seems like it’s been an ongoing process for you?

RF: Absolutely! Even now, I work on the Internet with Jersey Boys’ vocal coach Katie Agresta. She is truly incredible and has such a great ear.

JBB: Reporters and fans alike have referred to you as ‘triple-threat Faugno” regarding your phenomenal talents as a singer, a dancer and an actor. Which one of those is most challenging for you—singing, dancing, or acting? Which one would you say is the one that comes most naturally to you?

RF: This is one of those questions that I’ve been asked before, and I’m not really sure how to answer it. I really enjoy doing them all equally in different ways and I never wanted to focus on just one thing.

Each one is challenging: Dancing is the most physically challenging, especially what I’m doing in my one-man show. It’s very demanding. Singing is also very physically demanding; it’s very taxing and very physical in its own way. Acting combines a physical and mental challenge. It can be very physically challenging, let’s say, if you’re playing a dancer or a boxer, but then again you could be playing a character who’s sitting behind a desk. Acting is so mentally challenging; you always have to be thinking of what you are saying and doing as a character.

JBB: After seeing you pay homage to so many of the greatest American performers, it got me wondering: Out of all the idols, is there one in particular that you would say is your all-time favorite and why?

RF: It’s hard to pin down just one person. For dancing, it’s Fred [Astaire] or Gene [Kelly]. It’s like splitting hairs; each one is phenomenal in his own way.

As for my all-time pop singer, it would have to be Sinatra. Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis, Jr. would be right behind Sinatra for me.

As for acting, I would say my favorite it would be Marlon Brando for me. He’s sort of the godfather of modern acting.

JBB: Your one-man show gave me even more appreciation of your years of training, your early shows, and your commitment to being the best performer you can be. So Rick, is there one thing that you remember from your so many years of training that you ALWAYS do before showtime?

RF: Always, always a warm up! Both physically and vocally, I can’t get myself up for a show without a proper warm up. It’s like part of getting ready for work daily.

With my one-man show, I go to the studio and do a ballet workout and do the workouts over and over again to build up my stamina.

JBB: That workout is working great; watching you sing, dance, and tell your stories appeared effortlessly. It was spectacular!

RF: Thank you! The workout helps with my endurance for the show as I sing, dance, and talk to the audience.

JBB: Chatting with you at our interview back in January, then seeing the show made me curious. Do you have a pre-show ritual at South Point (such as saying a prayer, meditating, warming up, giving Joyce a call, if she’s not in town)?

RF: Besides my warm up, which is really my ritual, I always talk or text with Joyce and she tells me to have a great show. As for prayers, I do say, ‘God, please don’t let me screw up!’ (chuckles)

JBB: Hey, Rick, I say that one too, almost daily!

JBB: I’ve been meaning to tell you, I think the South Point Casino Showroom is a fantastic venue for your show! It reminds me of what I think Old Vegas would have been like, back in the day.

RF: It is the perfect place, isn’t it? I saw these small three-inch pictures of the venue online and I knew immediately this is what I wanted and that the showroom was the place for me. Although it is reminiscent of the Old Vegas showrooms, the sound system is incredible!

I looked around and thought, ‘Am I the only person doing this type of show?’ And, I guess I am and I’m baffled by that.

Las Vegas was the Mecca for shows like Sinatra, Elvis, and so many entertainers, but now it seems like there’s a big disconnect and I feel like it’s missing. It appears that Vegas is more into spectacle shows, and they’re fantastic—but the one-man show seems like a dying art form.

For that reason alone, I want to make people aware of the entertainment that includes stories, song, and dance–with minimal props, no sets, and no tricks. It doesn’t have to be 1962 for people to appreciate it.

JBB: We’ve heard the question from many Jersey Boys’ fans and crowds at the South Point, so we must ask you: Are there any plans in the works to create a DVD of your “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)” performances?

RF: Well, the show has been recorded, and it may be a possibility sometime in the future. That will require a little bit of thought and preparation for that project.

JBB: Everyone is talking about your fantastic live renditions and your new recording of some of the greatest hits from the American songbook. Although I keep changing which songs were my favorites, I’d have to say your live version of “Mr. Bojangles” and your recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” are my two current faves. Out of all of your songs in your live act, do you have a favorite? What about a favorite from your new recording?

RF: I love ‘Mr. Bojangles,’ too. Although it’s not on the recording, but I really love ‘All I Need Is the Girl.’ It’s such a complicated, beautifully written song with a uniquely crafted dance piece. All of the songs from that era were truly the greatest!

JBB: Another one I love in the show that’s not on your recording is ‘Straighten Up and Fly Right.’ I always loved Nat King Cole’s version, but yours is WOW! Even though you use it as a transitional number in your act, it was another highlight!

RF: It’s such a cool song for my transition between ‘Steppin’ Out’ and ‘San Francisco’ as I put my tails back on the coat rack and then go grab my stool during ‘Straighten Up And Fly Right.’

JBB: That was another truly remarkable thing about your show. You have a jacket, a cane, a broom, and a stool—and a great seven-piece band. It was fantastic to see all the focus on the songs, the dance, and the stories.

RF: Honestly, I didn’t want to gussy it up too much. I wanted to make a statement as to where I was coming from and put all the focus on the greatest songs and dancing.

JBB: So Rick, over the last several months, you’ve had some major accomplishments: you’ve created your own one-man show that has become a major success here in Vegas and you were the executive producer of your debut solo recording.

With these two major accomplishments, is there anything you have discovered about yourself personally that you didn’t know before? What about what you’ve discovered about show business?

RF: I’ve learned a lot about performing. In particular, I’ve learned how to carry a show by myself; to do a show and keep the audience’s attention for an hour an twenty minutes. That’s a talent in itself. I’ve also learned a lot about producing—with financing the project myself and the creative process it entails. Without Jersey Boys, none of this would have happened, so I thank God for Jersey Boys!

It’s been such a learning process on how to be a producer, getting the right people, delegating graphics and PR, hiring a musical director, and the seven-piece band.

It’s been a great process, not just artistically, but behind the scenes, from the business side. I’ve been able to co-produce and co-mix a recording, work with the South Point entertainment operations department, and I’ve had to work on a budget—deciding what I could and could not afford. It’s been an eye-opener.

None of this could have happened without the help of Joyce [Chittick, Rick's fiancé]. She’s been so supportive the whole way through and has always been there for me to help pick up the slack.

It’s been such as great learning experience, the kind of experience you can’t learn in a classroom situation. Jersey Boys and the one-man show have both been such incredible learning experiences.

JBB: Your next show is scheduled for March 21 at the South Point Casino and I know of many fans coming in for a repeat performance and many fans will be seeing the show for the first time. Besides a fantastic show, are there any other updates or surprises coming up later this month?

RF: It will be a Sunday afternoon—same time, same channel. What’s new is my CD, which will be re-mixed and re-mastered. I think it sounds even better than it was before. The CD will also be in new packaging called ‘Digipaks,’ which means they aren’t in a jewel box. I’ll also be selling autographed copies of live performance photos taken from the show.

JBB: Is your ‘Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)’ one-man show and your recording icing on the cake for you, Rick?

RF: Well, to me, icing on the cake is like a finale. This is more like confectioners’ sugar.

Like I was telling you last time, I never said when I was a kid, ‘Hey, I’m going to do a one-man show,’ but from where I came from and the people I look up to, it turned out to be a natural progression for me.

Rick Faugno’s one-man show, “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)” will return to the South Point Casino on Sunday, March 21 at 3:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit or call 702-797-8055.

Rick Faugno CD Cover Art


  1. I’m finally making it back to Vegas & will be seeing Rick’s one-man show! Looking so forward to it!

    Comment by Patty — March 11, 2010 @ 10:23 pm

  2. Terrific interview with Rick Faugno. He’s such a great Frankie & I’m excited to see him at the South Point Casino in April.

    Comment by TJ — March 11, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  3. Great interview! So nice to hear about how much he’s grown professionally – branching out to executive producing his show and his first CD. I too am looking forward to seeing Rick in April:)

    Comment by Angel — March 11, 2010 @ 11:14 pm

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