February 25, 2007

JBB Fantastic Fan Interview With Irene Eizen!

February 25th, 2007

Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank all of the incredible fans for their participation in our JBB Fantastic Fan Interview series! It is our pleasure to present JBB Fantastic Fan Interview #10, with Irene Eizen, who began seeing the show a week after it opened, and has returned again and again! For Irene, it’s become a family affair, with her husband, daughter, and granddaughter also loving the show! Over the summer, Irene’s mother will also be joining her at the August Wilson Theatre! Irene talks about how she became interested in Jersey Boys; how the show has lead her to some wonderful charitable endeavors; what makes JB so special for her; and much more!

JBB: Irene, tell us about yourself.

EI: I am a recently retired mathematics educator, having taught mathematics at all levels from kindergarten through graduate school throughout my thirty-seven year career. In my last position, I was Supervisor of K – 12 Mathematics Education for a school district in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I earned my BS, M.ED and Ed.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia. Of all the administrative responsibilities associated with my last position as supervisor, I was always drawn back to the kids, teachers and classroom. Reminds me of a Jersey Boys line near the end when Tommy DeVito talks about “being drawn back to the old neighborhood.” The old and best neighborhood for me was always the classroom.

I am married for 38 years to a wonderful man, Buz, who is an attorney. We have two children, Jennifer and Joshua, both of whom are married. Our grandchildren, Samantha, who is eight and Jacob, who is five, live in Celebration, Florida, with our daughter and son-in-law, Joseph. Our son, Joshua and our daughter-in-law Margaret, are expecting their first child in April. Of course, Buz and I are very excited about having our third grandchild.

I now divide my time between Philadelphia and Celebration, Florida, where we have a second home. As soon as our new grandchild is born, my time will be spent in three venues – Philadelphia, Celebration and the Washington D.C. area, where my son and daughter-in-law live. Actually, since I have seen JB ten times already with two upcoming shows, I should probably say my time is divided among four venues – the three I just mentioned and NYC, because I am there so often to see the show.

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

EI: I really stumbled upon Jersey Boys. In October, 2005, I was doing an Internet search for a Broadway show for our friends and us to see in mid-November, I read the description of Jersey Boys and thought it might be fun to see a show about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I grew up in the 60′s and was a devoted fan of the group. So, I ordered tickets for November 12, actually a week after the show opened.

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

EI: I loved the show as did my husband and our friends. I kept jumping out of my seat, singing and clapping – the show was so exciting. I guess nobody minded, because most of the audience was doing the same thing. I have never been to a Broadway show where the audience reaction was as overwhelming and exciting as JB. The music was fantastic; the story was real, heartwrenching at times, heartwarming throughout and the cast was phenomenal. The story was easy to follow–I didn’t have to think about some abstract or hidden meanings; it was straightforward and real. I was able to totally focus on the story, the music and the performers. When we left, I knew I was coming to see the show again. Our friends and we both decided to come back. And we did.

After seeing the show for the second time, I was more than hooked. I have since seen the show another eight times, sometimes with my husband, sometimes by myself. Each time, I became more in love with the show.

I have tickets to go again in March and April. As with most other times I have gone to JB, as I leave the theatre on my way to the Stage Door, I will stop at the box office and get more tickets. It’s like “MY MISSION!”

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?

EI: My description of the show seems to be ongoing as I find myself singing or humming the show songs constantly. I also find myself using some of the lines in the show in just everyday conversation, like “my mission” and many other show phrases. This always leads to a discussion of my love for Jersey Boys and a recommendation from me to see the show.

I have raved about the show to so many people. All of them have gone – some two and three times. The actors are so real and believable. Truly, as an original Four Seasons fan, the show performers are almost indistinguishable from the original Four Seasons.

Everyone to whom I recommended the show expressed the same thoughts. My daughter and her family flew up from Florida to see the show in December. My granddaughter and daughter, just like their mom, became hooked. Samantha sometimes calls me singing a show tune and asking me to name the title ( I always know the answer!).

My daughter, Jennifer and I did speak to Samantha about some of the language she would hear in the show and also about the shooting scene. We explained why the language would be used in the context of the story. I think it is important to do that if younger kids are coming to the show.

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

EI: I have met all of them, mostly at the stage door, but a couple of times backstage. The performers are not only outstanding artists, they are so grounded in reality, gracious and always friendly at the stage door. They engage the fans in conversation, sign autographs, recognize repeat fans. I couldn’t believe that JLY addressed me by name each of the last two times I saw him at the stage door. These guys are so fan focused. This reminds me of Tommy’s lines in the show when he refers as the Hall of Fame award as coming from the “people.” They are accessible to their fans and always expressing their thanks to them. As I said, several of the performers remembered me. Peter Gregus, John Lloyd Young, Mark Lotito, Michael Longoria, Jennifer Naimo. Incredible!

JBB: You and your husband have a charitable foundation whose mission is to fund underfunded causes. Being a great fan of Jersey Boys has lead to some charitable endeavors for you and your husband. Could you tell us about these endeavors?

EI: Buz and I do have a charitable foundation, The Newell Foundation – one of the missions is to help fund historically underfunded causes. We learned about Broadway Cares/Equity Fight Aids through John Lloyd Young’s blog and got in contact with the executive director of BC/EFA, Tom Viola. Buz and I went to NYC, had lunch with Tom and John Lloyd Young, learning about the incredible work of BC/EFA, a true grass-roots organization. Buz and I were amazed that John took time from his busy schedule to meet with us about BC/EFA, evidently such an important cause for him. “Is that class or what?”

BC/EFA provides such wide-ranging support to victims of AIDS and to AIDS-related causes, that Buz and I immediately committed to supporting the organization through our foundation, which we have done and will continue to do. We continue to learn about the multiple programs of BC/EFA and are so impressed.

However, the story continues. Each time I went to see Jersey Boys, I would buy more tickets at the box office. I began speaking with one of the box office agents who was very friendly and through our conversation learned that he had a nephew who was diagnosed with autism. I asked about the school he attended and upon finding out the name, did some research, discovering that the work done at this school, Mill Neck Manor School had outstanding programs for deaf students and other special needs students. As a 501(c)(3) organization which is an organization exempt from income taxes and is either a publicly supported charity of an educational, scientific or research organization, the Newell Foundation is able to support this wonderful school. I made contact with the school and the Foundation has since committed support to a proposed music program to help the hearing impaired. Both of these wonderful organizations, BC/EFA and Mill Neck Manor School became known through us directly and indirectly through Jersey Boys.

JBB: What is your favorite line in JB and why?

EI: This is a difficult question – there are so many. I think my favorite lines are near the end when Frankie Valli (JLY) says, “They ask you, what was the high point – the Hall of Fame, selling all those records, pulling Sherry of out of a hat. It was all great. But four guys standing under a street lamp . . etc. That was the best. So I keeping going and going like that bunny on TV . . . chasing the music, trying to get home.” In a few short lines, Frankie captures the essence of the show – the struggle and the glory.

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

EI: Of my many favorite scenes, I think the one with Mary Delgado and Frankie at the Pizza Parlor is at the top of my list. She points out to Frankie in a very funny way what we all learned about consonants and vowels in school. As a former elementary teacher, besides teaching math, I taught language arts and ingrained in my brain was “a,e,i,o,u and sometimes y.” Now it is ingrained in a little different way, not one I could use in teaching but one which really captures the essence of what all of us wanted to know – “what exactly does “sometimes y” mean?”

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

EI: Another difficult question. I would say three of the songs are my favorites. “Beggin’” and “Who Loves You?” I remember these songs as favorites growing up and seems like that has not changed almost 40 years later. “You’re Just Too Good To Be True” has become a more recent favorite, since the birth of our granddaughter, Samantha Rose, in 1998. My daughter, Samantha’s mother, sang this song to her everyday. I still do.

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

EI: I have seen Jersey Boys ten times so far, with tickets for two more shows (right now). Based on my track record, I know that there will be many more times that I will go.

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

EI: I have brought my husband, Buz, of course; different friends including my hairdresser, my daughter and her family. I have tickets for my mother and I to see the show in July (actually that makes it three more shows for me). Many times, I took a train from Philadelphia to NYC myself, went to see the show and returned home.

JBB: As you’ve been coming to JB since November 2005, how do you think the show and the audience’s reaction have evolved?

EI: The performers have been outstanding from the outset. However, there is definitely a sense of indistinguishability between the original Four Seasons and the JBB Four Seasons, which is a tribute to how hard the performers have worked to become JBB’s Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I also noticed that the cast really seems to enjoy themselves during
the performance. They exude confidence, tremendous talent and a commitment that each performance be their best one yet!

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

EI: The only other show my husband and I have seen more than once is Les Miserables. We saw it three times, loving the story and the beautiful music. What brings us, especially me, back to Jersey Boys is the reality of the show – a reliving of my teenage and young adulthood years. However, what makes JB even more unique is the actors, their accessibility and their relationship to the fans! This is such a refreshing change from the perception and in some cases the reality that some entertainers are inaccessible to their fans.

JBB: You’ve said that you grew up with the Four Seasons’ music. Do you have an all-time favorite Four Seasons’ song?

EI: I would have to say, “You’re Just Too Good To Be True.” I associate that with my granddaughter, Samantha.

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

EI: Each time I go to the show, it remains new, fresh and exciting! I love the story and the music. The actors are the best. When the understudies or alternates perform, they are also amazing.

Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank Irene once again for taking the time to share her wonderful thoughts about Jersey Boys! If you would like to be featured in an upcoming JBB Fantastic Fan Interview, we’d love to interview you! Please click on the Contact Page and send us your contact information.


  1. Thank you for a beautiful story, Irene. We are in the age of computers where so much is impersonal, but you and the Jersey Boys have shown that it still comes down to people.

    Family and the Newell Foundation seem to be the two most important considerations in your life. Hats off to John Lloyd Young, a wonderful role model himself, for introducing you to BC/EFA, and to you and Buz for
    joining him in the venture. But your humanity doesn’t stop with the “star”, as evidenced by your involvement with the JB box office agent’s nephew’s Mill Neck Manor school.

    Finally, you say the guys are “fan focused”, address their fans by name, and always express their thanks. Several weeks back, I couldn’t believe I was standing face-to-face talking to Christian Hoff as if we’d
    known each other forever. Their graciousness and fans like yourself reciprocating that appreciation is a huge factor in “Jersey Boys” never being stronger or positioned as beautifully as it is right now.

    Thanks for a touching and thoughtful piece, Irene. I think “Jersey Boys” has helped make this an extraordinary time in both our lives.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — February 26, 2007 @ 12:40 am

  2. Thank you, Howard. Another extraordinary happening is you and I have become friends through our love of the show and will meet each other soon. I am really looking forward to that. I am thrilled, as is my husband Buz, that you will be with us at the Crohn ‘s Colitis Renaissance Ball in Philadelphia.

    Comment by Irene Eizen — February 26, 2007 @ 6:29 am

  3. What a wonderful tribute to the show and the “boys”. I had the pleasure of not only seeing the show a week ago, but meeting the wonderful cast – all of who are true gentlemen (Christain Hoff is my personal favorite). I cannot express enough how the experience touched me. It was my first time seeing a show on Broadway so I’m not sure if a lot of shows effect people the way JB has, or if this is just an exceptional, phenomenal show and cast. The joy JB obviously brings to people is far reaching – as proven by your involvementin BC/EFA – how wonderful! A true testament to “paying it forward”.
    Thank you for sharing your story with us.
    Catherine Sanneman

    Comment by Catherine — February 26, 2007 @ 9:54 am

  4. Irene,
    I was also spotlighted as a fan in January, and because of our similar educational background, as a teacher, reading specialist, and now a curriculum supervisor spanning 30 years, I found myself totally relating to everything you said about your experience and excitement about the show. You and your husband’s true commitment to helping those less fortunate is inspiring. I also became introduced to BC/EFA through meeting and talking to John Lloyd Young at the stage door. I contributed to John’s blog and my husband and I also recently attended “Rockers on Broadway” and “Leading Men II” which raised money for this same cause. I also loved to hear that you attend the show often by yourself, which is what I also do. I also find myself reciting and relating many lines from JB to my work and to my life. I know I will continue, like you, to be a loyal fan of the show and thank you for sharing how JB has enriched your life.

    Comment by Beverley Micciche — February 26, 2007 @ 10:35 am

  5. Thank you, Beverley and Catherine for your beautiful comments. So much good has occurred because of JB, including communicating with lovely people such as you.

    Hope to see you at the show! Irene Eizen

    Comment by Irene Eizen — February 26, 2007 @ 1:48 pm

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