February 17, 2007

JBB Fantastic Fan Interview with Hilary!

February 17th, 2007

Thanks to Jersey Boys having so many dedicated and enthusiastic fans who keep coming back for more, the JBB Fantastic Fan Interview feature response has been incredible! We are delighted to present our ninth JBB Fantastic Fan Interview with Hilary,who talks about how she became interested in JB; the incredible experiences she’s had at the show with her family and friends, who are also big JB fans; her favorite scenes, musical numbers, and lines; how she thinks the show has changed since the early days and after the Tonys; and what makes this show so special to her!

JBB: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hilary: My name is Hilary Ranucci. I’m 21 years old and from Syracuse, NY. I am a junior at St. Lawrence University, which is in Canton, NY, basically the middle of nowhere and only 20 minutes from the Canadian border. Currently I am in an “abroad” program, I use the term loosely since I am spending the semester in Washington, DC, which isn’t technically abroad but not at my home school. In DC, I am enrolled in American University and am interning for a Congressman from West Virginia. Outside of school I like to spend time with the love of my life, my horse Zampano, and go to New York City. I like to see every musical that will be nominated for a Tony before the actual award show. I also am a huge Yankees fan. Otherwise I’m a pretty normal 21 year-old who likes to hang out with friends and family!

JBB: When did you first hear about Jersey Boys, and what sparked your interest in seeing the show for the first time?

Hiary: I’ll be completely honest, every year my family goes on a day bus trip to NYC the first Saturday of December and my mom and I decided we wanted to see a matinee. Around October I got on Broadway.com to see what shows were opening since we’d seen most the shows of the previous season. My mom is a big Four Seasons fan, so I suggested Jersey Boys to her. I had ZERO expectations because over the summer the “jukebox” musicals, the shows that I thought it would be like, all had a very limited life. I asked my mom if she wanted to see this show called Jersey Boys and for all I knew it would be closed before we got there. I grew up on the music, listening to my parents play it, so I figured even if it was a horrible show, at least I’d leave humming a good tune. Little did I know this show was much more than anyone expected and I found that out as soon as the show started.

JBB: What did you think of Jersey Boys upon seeing it for the first time?

Hilar: At first when the French rap scene started I thought, “What is this? They don’t even sing the songs in English?” Then, as soon as Christian addressed the audience I fell in love with the character of Tommy DeVito and became immersed in the story. I grew up with an Italian father who loves all the classic mob movies, and I was raised on not only Four Seasons music, but also Frank Sinatra and the rest of the Rat Pack, so I loved these characters, the music, and the storyline. I thought the entire cast was fabulous and loved how quick the story moved. I felt that these characters were incredibly believable and the main thing that came to mind was, my father, who isn’t normally the type of guy who likes musical theater, would LOVE this show. It is as close to “Sopranos: The Musical” as you’re going to get!

JBB: How would you describe Jersey Boys to people who have not seen the show and may not be familiar with the Four Seasons’ music?

Hilary: I’ve done it many times! Usually out of all the hits you can find a song they are familiar with. I then tell them, that song is a Four Seasons song, or at least it was originally, and this is the story of how they went from nothing to being one of the most famous groups in American history. Also, I usually do describe it as “Sopranos: The Musical” because the mob is prominent in the show and they’re all Italians from Jersey, and that tends to spark attention. I also defend it when people call it a “jukebox” musical because if you take the songs out of this show, it still would work as an amazing play! The songs aren’t in there to advance the plot, besides maybe one or two instances. They are in there because the characters are performing those songs at that point of their life. The book of this show is phenomenal and tells such a great story. Props to Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice for telling the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in such an entertaining way!

JBB: Have you met any of the Jersey Boys cast members?

Hilary: I have met all of them. They’re all unique and amazing in their own individual ways. The best part is they are all the most gracious people, ever. They will sign autographs in any weather, take any amount of pictures, and talk to every single person that is standing outside that stage door. You don’t get that at every show. The cast of this show goes above and beyond being friendly to their fans and I applaud them for that. They’re all wonderful onstage and off! John Lloyd also likes to go that extra yard on people’s birthdays!

JBB: What is your favorite line in Jersey Boys and why?

Hilary: This is one of the hardest questions anyone could ask me. There are so many! I love almost all of Tommy’s lines but I’ll give my top three in no particular order!

During the recording session, “You’re not hearing it the way I do?”, “How do you hear it?”, “I hear it in sky blue, you’re giving me brown.” “That’s because you’re paying us sh*t!” Especially the way Christian says it.

I love Nick’s towel rant followed by his head hitting the table after Tommy tells him how much money he owes in taxes.

I also love the scene between Donnie Kehr and Peter Gregus in the car. It is the best interchange ever and is HYSTERICAL! “Now who’s the a**hole?” John Lloyd’s face is priceless and I always love watching the audience jump because they aren’t expecting the gunshot.

JBB: What’s your favorite Jersey Boys scene and why?

Hilary: Act 1, no I’m kidding! Yet another impossible question. In the show itself, I ADORE “Dawn”. The lighting is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen done on stage and is incredibly creative. I also love “December 1963″ after curtain call. It is just this amazing time to dance since everyone naturally is on their feet after the standing ovation.

JBB: Do you have a favorite Jersey Boys musical number?

Hilary: Not to sound so stereotypical, but I love when they perform “Sherry”. There is just such an amazing build up to that song and the audience is so happy to finally hear it. When Peter Gregus as Bob Crewe says, “Bingo!”, I get chills! It’s funny because you can see some people in the audience recognize the beat leading up to the break, and others are shocked once they bust out into it. I also love “Who Loves You” because after the closing monologues it just fits perfectly.

JBB: How many times have you seen Jersey Boys, and what keeps bringing you back?

Hilary: Last time I was there, I told Christian I wouldn’t say how many times I’d seen it, but he guessed it correctly, and people have me beat, so I guess I’ll own up to my number. I’ve seen the show 11 times.

I keep going back for multiple reasons. First of all, my parents love the show, along with other family members, and I’ve met many people in the student rush line who obviously love the show, so I partly go back just because of the company. Not to mention, the show is amazing, who wouldn’t want to see it over and over? You know you’re in for a good show once you get in the theater! You’re going to laugh, you’re going to cry, and you’re just going to have a great time. Also, after a certain point, the cast and characters start to feel like family and you miss them, which means it’s time for a visit!

JBB: Who have you brought with you to see the show, and what did they think about the show?

Hilary: I brought my parents, both love it, especially my father who only goes to see musicals to humor me. I got him a ticket for his birthday and he still carries it around in his wallet, and tells every single one of his football officiating friends that this is the show to see! I don’t think any other Broadway show is ever discussed at football meetings. He even watched the Tonys this year to make sure they won! I also spent my 21st birthday at the show with two of my friends. We went at 4:30am straight from the bars to the student rush line, seemed like a good idea at the time, and it was! Basically, I’ve brought any friend willing to go. Overwhelming response, “Wow!”

JBB: Speaking of the Tonys, how did you feel about the award season this year?

Hilary: I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Tony’s this year, and I couldn’t have asked for a better year to go! I cried when Christian won, because no one expected him to win. Sure he deserved it, no question in my mind there, but I was shocked that the Tony voters agreed with me. You can actually hear me screaming on air when he won. I basically lost my voice that night because then John Lloyd won, and even though he was the favorite, you can never be sure, and it was wonderful to see him receive the award he earned. Then, Best Musical was a nail-biter because there was no clear favorite. My friend who went with me is a Drowsy Chaperone fan, and of course I was hoping the Boys would win, and we literally turned to one another and said “may the best show win,” because neither of us would have argued no matter who won. However, when Julie Andrews said Jersey Boys, I was pretty excited. Their performance on the Tonys was also wonderful and when each Boy walked out of the darkness up to their microphone when “Who Loves You” started, I’ll admit I got a little teary-eyed since I’d already been following the show for seven months and it was such an amazing moment.

JBB: How did you notice the show change after all the awards it picked up this season?

Hilary: It has just been interesting watching this show grow. When it first started previews, I was paying attention to it, and it was only selling about half the house. Then, once word of mouth got out the numbers slowly climbed. They were having sold out shows before the Tonys but as soon as the nominations were announced it became a normal thing to sell out every single show. However, when they won Best Musical, the show sold out for months in advance. Good luck getting a ticket now!

It has also been interesting to watch audience change. When I first saw it in December you could count the people under 40 or so, on one hand. I also student rushed the first time in December and walked up to the box office window at noon and asked if they had student rush and the woman was like SURE! and I got one no problem. They didn’t even sell all the student rush tickets out for a Saturday matinee and I ended up sitting next to an older couple who asked “why I was at the show, especially without my parents?” Slowly, student rush got more and more difficult and you had to start getting to the box office before it opened to get in line to get tickets. In March, 8AM was more than early enough. Over the summer, especially after the Tonys, you better have planned on getting to the theater by 5AM to even have a chance at student rush!

JBB: Why do you think the show’s audience has changed since it opened?

Hilary: I think that as time went on it wasn’t just the name “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons” that was pulling in the audience. Once the show got a name for itself, all ages wanted to see the show. Also, most of the actors were not that well known when the show opened, so once people got to know who they were and became big names on Broadway, that also made the show more appealing to other people. I think this show can work for almost all ages. I’d consider it PG-13 for language and adult content, but you don’t have to have lived in the 50′s and 60′s to be able to relate to this story, or find the show entertaining.

JBB: Compared to other shows you have seen, what do you think makes Jersey Boys special or unique?

Hilary: It is believable! These characters are real and so is the story. These are some of the best characters ever because of the book and because of the actors who originated the roles. You also connect to each of the “Seasons” because they speak directly to you, and if you’ve ever been in the front row, LITERALLY to you! I really don’t know how to explain it besides that. You’ve got great music and a wonderful story mixed with amazing actors, but at the same time it is all real and something about that makes the story very genuine and you leave with a different feeling then you would after seeing a completely fictional show.

Also, going back to the audience. This show appeals to so many different people! My dad, as I have stated already, is a perfect example, and he is not the only big football Italian man who you see at this show. And not only at the show, but at the stage door. Most stage door crowds consist of people between the ages of 12 and 25, I’d say. At Jersey Boys, there are 70 year-old men and women waiting to meet the guys. It’s really amazing how this show has affected so many different people that other shows normally would not have.

JBB: Before Jersey Boys, you were already familiar with the music of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. How did you become so familiar with their music? Do you have a favorite Four Seasons’ song?

Hilary: I was very familiar with Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons. My parents both played their music throughout all of my childhood. My mom even dug out one of their original records and had the cast and Bob Gaudio sign it. It was funny, I actually saw Frankie Valli perform at the New York State Fair for free the summer before Jersey Boys. The next summer he was on a sold out tour charging $65 a ticket!

My favorite Four Seasons song is by far “December 1963″. I’ve always loved it since I was a kid, although I never paid attention to the lyrics until after I saw the show and I was shocked! I had no clue what that song was about.

JBB: Anything else you’d like to share about Jersey Boys?

Hilary: It’s been a wonderful experience. I’ve met so many friends through this show and have so many memories, I can’t even begin to explain. Basically, I just want to thank everyone involved in the show. Cast, crew, creative team, security (that’s right Dave!), and the fans. Everyone is great at this show. Go see it if you haven’t, even if you have to buy tickets for next year, it is worth it!

Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank Hilary once again for this marvelous interview! If you would like to be featured in an upcoming JBB Fantastic Fan Interview, we’d love to hear from you! Please click on the Contact Page and send us your contact information.


  1. Hilary, I’m probably pretty close to your Dad’s age, but still related to your wonderful story in so many ways. Three points really hit home:

    1. You mentioned the guys go out of their way on people’s birthdays. I’m a successful CPA, have been all over the world, and have met many celebrities. But one of my happiest surprises ever was when, on my birthday this year, I opened my e-mail and had individual birthday wishes from Christian and John Lloyd. Later that night at Birdland, Daniel wished me a happy day in person. Still don’t know how they found out, and I had to resolve to just enjoy it, ’cause I still don’t believe it!!

    2. Re-watching the Tony’s, you were right, JLY was odds-on, and none of the pundits predicted talented Christian’s well-deserved win. That’s why Radio City Music Hall “exploded” the way it did. Still gives me goose-bumps to see Christian’s reaction, Bobby and Jenny-Lynn jump up in excitement, Frankie giving Christian a standing ovation, and Melissa beaming with pride. Bravo, Christian.

    3. I had just graduated when “December, 1963″ first hit in 1975 and enjoyed the remix in 1994. Believe it or not, I sung along, but never really “got the lyrics” either until Christian’s “astronaut” wisecracks and Daniel’s emergence in the bathrobe! Glad to see I wasn’t alone.

    Our generation gap disappeared when I read your interview tonight, Hilary. Thanks for a wonderful piece; you’ve got a great future ahead. Take care.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — February 17, 2007 @ 11:47 pm

  2. Hilary Ranucci is awesome.

    John Lloyd also likes to go that extra yard on people’s birthdays!
    He certainly does!

    Comment by Elle — February 18, 2007 @ 1:46 am

  3. Great interview, and going on what you said about JLY going that extra yard on people’s birthdays, I’m not going to say it here out of the knowledge she might read this, but I worked out something with JLY for my sister’s birthday, if we get into the night show on her birthday.

    Comment by Josh Bellan — February 18, 2007 @ 11:04 am

  4. That was a great interview Hilary! You’re very articulate, and you had so many excellent points about this wonderful show! You also have a very nice name…
    : )

    Comment by Hillary — February 18, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

  5. Hilary, I loved your interview!
    I’m so happy that more and more young people are
    experiencing this amazing show and becoming fans.

    The whole cast of Jersey Boys are
    “One Of a Kind”.
    Truly the nicest group of actors
    on Broadway.

    Comment by Damaris Dugan — February 19, 2007 @ 10:45 am

  6. HI, Hillary,

    You had an amazing interview. I also recognized some of the names of the people who wrote comments – Howard Tucker, a great, new friend of mine; Damaris Dugan who was also a JBB Fantastic Fan as was Howard. JB overtly and unexpectedly at times, perhaps has given rise to wonderful new relationships for many of its fans. Certainly, the performers are right at the top of the list for promoting these relationships by their responsiveness and graciousness. The entire Jersey Boys experience has been such a positive force in my life!

    Best of everything always! Maybe we can get a JBB Fantastic Fans group going!

    Irene Eizen

    Comment by Irene Eizen — February 19, 2007 @ 4:10 pm

  7. Hi Hilary,

    I saw the show recently and it was fantastic. I was a little disappointed when I read the playbill before the show and saw that Michael was playing Frankie Vallie. I had my heart on seeing John Lloyd Young, but Michael did a great job. CH was excellent as Tommy Devito. I’ve been going to New York City for 7 years now and have seen alot of shows, but I have so say, this one is on the top of my list. I enjoyed your comments and agree with you. I have tickets for May with my New York girls, but I’m going to try to get tickets before John leaves in April . I live in Baltimore so It’s hard for me to get to NYC.

    I’m glad to see there are other people out there besides me that are hooked on JB.

    Besh Wishes…

    Comment by Lisa Ross — February 19, 2007 @ 10:01 pm

  8. Hi Hilary! You are so awesome. ILY more than i love Jersey Boys

    Comment by Tiffany — March 9, 2008 @ 12:03 pm

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