October 2, 2011

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Rick Faugno, Part One!

October 2nd, 2011

One week from today, Rick Faugno will be ending his phenomenal run as “Frankie Valli” in the Las Vegas Company of Jersey Boys and we’ve decided to salute him with “Rick Faugno Week” on Jersey Boys Blog!

Rick began with the Jersey Boys national tour five years ago, first playing Joe Pesci, later being the “Frankie” alternate, and then playing the role in Las Vegas since its opening at the Palazzo in May 2008. In Part One of his JBB EXCLUSIVE Interview, Rick reflects on his early days with the show; the approach he took in learning the “Frankie” character; and what he’ll mist most about starring as the pop icon.

Jersey Boys Blog: Rick, this is such big news that after five years, you are leaving your amazing journey in Jersey Boys. Let’s go back to the early days when you first started as Joe Pesci in the national tour. Was it a ‘given’ that someday you would be playing Frankie Valli in one of the Jersey Boys companies?

Rick Faugno: Truth is, I auditioned for the Frankie Valli role way back in the beginning, but I didn’t get it at first. I started out playing Joe Pesci in 2006 when the national tour began. So, no, it really wasn’t a ‘given’ that I would someday have the Frankie role; I had to prove myself.

The first time I went on as Frankie [in February 2007], Des [McAnuff] was in the audience! At the time I went on as Frankie for the first time, Christopher Kale Jones was the six-show Frankie and Jarrod Spector was the two-show Frankie. I was moved up to the two-show Frankie after Jarrod left for Chicago.

JBB: It’s obviously been an amazing journey over the last five years, why do you think now is the right time to move on to other things?

RF: Five years is not a whole lot of time, but it’s time for a change. I’m the same person that I was when it all began, but I’ve changed as a performer and an artist. Much of that has to do with performing the role of Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys. Before this opportunity, I was always performing–singing, dancing, and acting–primarily in a supporting role. Being in a role of this magnitude shaped me as a performer. Playing the Frankie Valli role was an amazing training ground for the next phase of my life. The lessons have been invaluable—singing, acting, dancing. Also, I learned a lot about how to really communicate with people.

JBB: It’s interesting how you describe it as a training ground. After growing up on Broadway, how would you compare your life as a performer in Las Vegas and your life on tour to your days on Broadway?

RF: Las Vegas is a totally different animal —the culture, the lifestyle…it’s a different ball of wax. And touring? That’s another thing altogether (chuckles).

My days on Broadway were totally tremendous and I hope to go back to that someday. Jersey Boys in Las Vegas is almost like being in a Broadway theatre production. The world of Broadway and Las Vegas production shows are very similar since they are in the two entertainment capitals of the world.

JBB: What do you think you will miss most about starring as Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys Las Vegas?

RF: That is one hard question to answer. It’s very tough to boil it down to one or two things. Obviously, I’ll miss playing Frankie and being on stage, playing this amazing role.

You know what I’ll really miss? Being on that stage, singing ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.’ There is something about that song—how it’s constructed—it’s so spiritual and unique. It’s a very rare song and as a singer, you don’t often get a chance to sing a song like that one. It’s such a culminating moment when Frankie is at the top. The build-up is so powerful; it’s not just a great song, but it’s a release that you have as Frankie.

‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ is such a legendary song. As Bob Gaudio has said before, it’s like three songs in one, including part of it being a children’s nursery rhyme. Everyone knows the song and it has special meaning to so many people.

JBB: As you are finishing your amazing journey portraying Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys Las Vegas, what are you taking with you?

RF: All sorts of things. As I was saying before, I have learned so much as a person. The role has shaped who I am. Of course, I’m very much the same person I was when it began, but because of this role, I’m very different. It’s been a great acting experience and from now on, I will judge everything that I do based on this experience.

The role has seeped its way into every part of my life within the theatre, my relationship with Joyce, my entire being.
Being on stage, being responsible for the iconic songs, and the great feeling of conveying this entire story are all things that I will take with me. It’s been one great acting lesson—that’s how I can sum it up.

JBB: It’s so interesting how you describe the feeling of being responsible for the iconic songs and for telling Frankie’s story. As you’ve heard me say to you dozens and dozens of times (chuckles), your portrayal was beyond just playing the role—you truly ARE Frankie Valli on that stage! Many of my friends who have been to the show with me, and even those who have seen you on national TV appearances have said to me, ‘That guy NAILS Frankie!’

RF: Thank you so much; you know I appreciate you telling me that! Honestly, I wanted to be him. As I was preparing for the role, I tried to find everything I could on Frankie—the videos, the interviews, and as you know, there’s not a lot out there that was written about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons’ lives. I tried to find as much as I could to help guide my character.

The opportunity to play this role came at a perfect time for me, in my late 20s, the same age Frankie was, when ‘Sherry’ became a hit. Finding out as much as I could about Frankie was invaluable. Once I got the okay from Frankie that I’d be playing him in the Las Vegas Company, I asked him lots of questions and he gave me lots of information about himself and the group. It was so helpful to get the information right from the source. After learning everything I could, I felt like I could do justice enough to play the role in Las Vegas.

I had to think things out and break things down. It was like an intellectual approach in learning this character so I could convey his story to the audience. I broke down every moment in the show, considering Frankie goes from age 16 to his mid-50s, when he’s inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s a huge lifespan and the most important thing was to take that audience on that journey, watching the story unfold before their eyes.

This role will always be something that I will carry with me. It is truly one of a kind.

JBB: Considering you began on Broadway at age 12, I’m sure your work ethic as a performer has always been extremely high, but do you think the Frankie Valli role brought it to an even higher level?

RF: I always strived to do the best in whatever I did, but yes, I think playing a living legend inspired me to work very hard and to portray this role to the absolute best of my abilities.


  1. Wonderful reflections from Rick’s journey in Jersey Boys! Wish I could come back to Vegas for next week’s show. We wish you all the best, Rick, in your upcoming endeavors and look forward to following where your career will take you.

    Comment by Becky — October 2, 2011 @ 7:57 pm

  2. Great candid interview with Rick Faugno. He is such a terric Frankie and will be sad to see him leave the show, but I’m sure he’ll continue to do fantastic in his future endeavors.

    Comment by RG — October 2, 2011 @ 8:01 pm

  3. Great interview with a great performer and person. I love Rick’s description of CTMEOY. You will be missed. Rick. Wishing you all good things as you move forward in your career. Hope to see you back on Broadway soon!!

    Comment by Pamela — October 4, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

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