January 21, 2010

JBB EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Rick Faugno–Sardi’s, His Upcoming Show, and Recording!

January 21st, 2010

Last month, JERSEY BOYS Vegas’ “Frankie Valli,” Rick Faugno was honored with a caricature at Sardi’s–and that’s not all that’s been going on! In between starring in JERSEY BOYS Vegas, rehearsing for his upcoming one-man show, “Songs My Idols Sang (and Danced)” at the South Point Casino, and putting the final touches on his debut solo recording, we had a marvelous opportunity to chat with Rick, who shared a lot of fantastic news and updates!

Jersey Boys Blog: Great to catch up with you Rick! First, I wanted to begin by congratulating you on your recent Sardi’s honor! How did it feel to be joining your idols on the wall at Sardi’s and what does this honor mean to you as a performer?

Rick Faugno: Thank you! It was such a humbling experience, being thought of in the same light as so many great performers. It was a once in a lifetime experience as a performer.

JBB: Back when you were a kid, before your Broadway debut, and later going to rehearsals and performing in The Will Rogers Follies, did you used to go to Sardi’s and think, ‘Hey, I’m going to be up there some day?’

RF: I used to go to Sardi’s quite a bit as a kid and always wished it would happen, but honestly, I never thought it would happen one day. It was pretty astounding.

JBB: It was wonderful seeing photos of you and your parents at Sardi’s. They must be so proud of you!

RF: It was incredible! They’ve been with me on this journey for a long time and have supported me and sacrificed a lot for me. They’ve been living this through me, with so many ups and downs along the way. The Sardi’s honor confirms that I’ve done something good in my life and in this business. This is one of the greatest things that can happen to you as a performer. It’s going to be up there as long as Sardi’s is there. It makes me feel like I’ve managed to do something that matters.

JBB: Rick, your first two “Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced)” shows were both sell-out smashes here in Vegas–and so great to hear that you’ll be having another show this coming Sunday at the South Point Casino! Considering you’ve been performing since you were a kid, was it always one of your dreams to have a one-man show?

RF: Well, I never really thought to myself growing up, ‘Some day, I’m going to have a one-man show’; I was always just committed to doing good work on stage. But, being here in Las Vegas, I was able to look into doing other things. Besides New York, Las Vegas lends itself to developing new shows. So, I got to thinking that it was the right time to incorporate all of the things I grew up doing–ballet, jazz, and tap, in addition to singing, and telling a story. It was the perfect chance to begin creating a one-man show.

JBB: For people who will be seeing your show at South Point Casino for the first time, can you give us a sneak peak into what’s in store for them on Sunday?

RF: The show is two-fold: I take the audience with me on the journey of my life, from a 4-year-old taking tap lessons through my time with Jersey Boys. I talk about my life as a kid in show business, working with such greats as Tommy Tune, Charles Strouse, Julie Andrews, Herb Gardner, Cy Coleman, and Adolph Green & Betty Comden. Along with the people that I have worked with, I also pay homage to the song and dance performers I have looked up to in my life, such as Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra.

JBB: I’ve been wondering, what are the challenges of doing a one-man show versus the challenges of doing a show such as Jersey Boys?

RF: All shows are challenging in their own way, but with the one-man show, it’s only you on stage. It’s pretty bare-bones with a couple of costume changes, well, not really even that–I wear either a jacket or a vest. It’s me, a seven-piece band, made up of many of the guys from Jersey Boys, a cane, a broom, some lighting, and sound. With a production show, you have lavish costumes, pretty girls, usually an orchestra, set changes, subplots, and a lot more. There are a lot of distractions in a big production that divert the audience’s attention and they’re not focused on just one character or performer.

Of course, there’s a major challenge in playing Frankie Valli–and it’s a role I still enjoy doing very much, but with the one man show, the burden is all on my shoulders.

JBB: So, Rick, it’s exciting to hear that you’ve been recording a CD! Is this the first time you’ve done a recording? Why was this the right time for you to do a solo recording?

RF: I had the opportunity to perform on cast recordings, including The Will Rogers Follies and Wonderful Town, but this was my first recording as a solo artist. This recording is something I’ve always wanted to do for a long time. I thought, ‘What better time to do a recording with the music from my show, ‘Songs My Idols Sang (And Danced).’ It was a natural progression.

JBB: I’ve enjoyed reading your Twitter and Facebook updates about the recording process–the band, your vocals, the mixing, and the mastering! Where did you record the album and could you tell us a bit more about the recording process?

RF: I did the recording in the Beam Music Center at UNLV. Chuck Foley was my engineer. Chuck is the studio manager and engineer at Beam. It was a process that took a few months. In a recording session, if you do the vocals with the instruments at the same time, something could get drowned out. So, the drummer, the horn section, and my guitarist recorded their tracks at separate times, and then I did my vocal tracks.

JBB: I noticed you mentioned the mixing process frequently on your updates. Tell us about the mixing process.

RF: At the mixing process, you take the rough recording and basically you tweak it and turn it into the way you want it to sound. Maybe less trumpet, more drums, turning up the vocals, leveling the sound, and things like that. Then, the recording gets mastered.

JBB: What happens during the mastering?

RF: Mastering is the final step in the recording process, where the final mix is tweaked and polished before it goes off to be reproduced. It’s a special program that produces the final product that you’ll hear on the radio or on the CD. In that process, things might become more beefed up and the sounds are brought out to near perfection.

JBB: So, are you the producer of the CD?

RF: I guess you could call me the producer–since I fronted everything, but artistically speaking, Jersey Boys’ musical director and conductor, Keith Thompson is really the producer.

JBB: How many songs are on the CD?

RF: A total of 13–basically all of the songs from my one-man show, with the exception of “All I Need is the Girl,” since that is more of a visual number with the huge dance break and “Straighten Up and Fly Right,” since that’s more of a transitional number.

JBB: Both your new recording and your one-man show features standards that have been loved by many generations. How do you make these standards, such as “Embraceable You,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” your own?

RF: These songs are so great, so well-written, and amazing pieces of American music history. They are such well-respected songs and everyone knows them. These songs are associated with the artists who made them famous–Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, and so on–and that’s a difficult thing to overcome. What I do is give a nod to these fantastic performers and I try to present them in a new light by connecting these songs to my own life. This is not an impersonation of the singers who made these songs famous. I sing the song as if it is being sung for the first time, like in the great musicals or in the old days in Vegas. It’s a great challenge, but it’s also lots of fun!

JBB: Everyone is anxiously awaiting your CD release! When will it be available and where can fans purchase it?

RF: The initial release date is this Sunday! It will be for sale outside the showroom at the South Point Casino and I’m hoping the CD will be available in the Jersey Boys gift shop at the Palazzo within a week. It will be a few weeks before it is available for purchase on CDBaby.com.

JBB: Considering you’re playing Frankie Valli, a major recording icon, did you draw on the show for inspiration and influence when you were recording your CD?

RF: That’s such an interesting question. Frankie Valli and Jersey Boys are always in the background influencing me. But for this recording, I think the inspiration came from the icons that I am paying homage to in my show.

JBB: So, Rick, to use a Bob Gaudio line from Jersey Boys, “This is your time”–the recognition at Sardi’s, starring in the top show in Vegas, starring in your one-man show, and now your recording!

RF: I’ve been having a wonderful time living in Vegas the last couple years. I love it here! Originating the role of “Frankie” in Jersey Boys Las Vegas, the show being named #1 and being named Best Singer in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Best of Las Vegas poll, creating my own show at the South Point Casino, the Sardi’s recognition, and the recording is icing on the cake! I’ve been really blessed!

I hope people get a chance to come out to see my show on Sunday! I have had such a great time creating my own show and it’s been such a fun experience that I would like to share it with everyone!


  1. Fantastic interview with Rick! I had a marvelous time at his September show. Wish I could be in town Sunday. Looking forward to his CD!

    Comment by Kate — January 21, 2010 @ 2:59 pm

  2. Rick is such a great Frankie! I really enjoyed reading this article and am really excited about his show this Sunday.

    Comment by Mandy — January 21, 2010 @ 3:01 pm

  3. Rick Faugno is such a versatile young performer. If you haven’t seen his show yet, I would highly recommend it. He truly makes the standards his own.

    Comment by Paul — January 22, 2010 @ 12:14 am

  4. Good luck to Rick on his upcoming show. I really enjoyed the one in August. I look forward to his CD.Thank goodness I have friends going who will be able to get me a copy!


    Comment by Krystal — January 22, 2010 @ 11:18 am

  5. Susie, these were great questions, with Rick giving us an education on mixing and mastering.

    Yeah, this is “Rick’s time”, and through it all, he’s remained so down-to-earth. Have a great show, Rick, and enjoy the ride!

    Comment by Howard Tucker — January 22, 2010 @ 11:52 am

  6. Rick is my favorite Frankie……just a phenomenal talent. Can’t wait to see him again.

    Comment by EllenJ. — January 24, 2010 @ 1:36 am

  7. While I look forward to getting Rick’s CD, I really wish it could be a DVD, incorporating Rick’s extraordinary dancing as well. He certainly has plenty of areas in common with his idols. Thanks for the interview!

    Comment by Audrey — January 24, 2010 @ 11:26 pm

  8. Audrey, are you clairvoyant? I was thinking the same thing yesterday after watching my third performance of Rick’s show. Stubbbleyou was talking to a lady in the audience after the show about the CD and she wanted a DVD also. Everyone should see Rick’s show in person, but if you cannot, a DVD is the next best thing. I’m listening to his CD right now and enjoying it so much. Congratulations Rick!!

    Comment by Linda — January 25, 2010 @ 11:24 am

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