April 23, 2007

JBB Fantastic Fan Interview With Mike Magbaleta & Family!

April 23rd, 2007

The response to JBB Fantastic Fan Interviews has been remarkable, with fans from all over the country–including New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Georgia, San Francisco, and Arizona participating! We’re excited to present our 14th interview with Mike Magbaleta, who hails from SF. Mike talks about how he and his family became hooked on Jersey Boys; what keeps bringing them back to see the national tour at the Curran Theatre; and what the Four Seasons’ music means to him. We also had the opportunity to chat with Mike’s wife, Lydia and his sons, Christopher and Michael III about this incredible show!

JBB: Tell us about yourself.

MM: My name is Mike B. Magbaleta, I’m 40 years old, work in the legal industry, happily married for over 16 years to my beautiful wife Lydia and have twin sons, Michael III, who is a future Broadway star and “Honk”! alumnus like Erich Bergen, and Christopher who is going to be an innovative roller coaster designer, aged 15.

JBB: When did you first hear about Jersey Boys, and how did you become interested in the show?

MM: We first heard and saw the Broadway Jersey Boys when they performed their show teasers at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Dick Clark’s New Years Eve show. The various teasers on TV, word of mouth by friends, various commercials, newspaper reviews and local news stories were what got us interested and clamoring for tickets!

JBB: How many times have you seen Jersey Boys in San Francisco, and what was your reaction the first time you saw the show?

MM: We watched the National Touring Cast twice on the 22nd and 28th of March, 2007. We also have tickets for the upcoming May 13th evening performance. The reaction we had after watching it for the first time was, WOW!!!!! Our goosebumps stayed with us for days and I e-mailed the cast afterwards thanking them for the “flashback to the 60′s/70′s” and musical gift to the city of San Francisco with their flawless performance. The end of the matinee show on March 28th was emotionally charged when Erich Bergen announced that Jarrod Spector was leaving them to start casting for the National Touring Cast II.

JBB: What keeps bringing you back to the show and what makes you feel so connected to Jersey Boys?

MM: The youthful and professional cast, “real life” storyline, music and “spot on” portrayal of the Four Seasons is what brings us back to watch the show. My connection to the Jersey Boys is spiritual because I grew up listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Season’s music. Their songs mirrored my good and bad times as well….. The Jersey Boys are the group that bridges the gap between generations of old and new fans.

JBB: Why do you think so many people are connecting with Jersey Boys, and why do you think so many of us keep returning to the show?

MM: It is plain knowledge that the Four Seasons were a group of neighborhood kids that hung out singing at street corners before they made it big. Everyone can relate to them because their story could have portrayed anyone in their youth. Also, it’s the curiosity that many people have about their favorite music groups, because Jersey Boys tells a story from simple beginnings in Central New Jersey, the ups and downs of the music industry, hard life touring, and leading up to their ultimate triumph as inductees of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Not many musical groups have their story told on stage. Only in the media and tabloid print.

JBB: Have you met any of the JB national tour cast members?

MM: Jarrod Spector and Melissa Strom, when donating to the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Benefit in the Curran Theatre lobby. Also, I received a hot tip from Michael Ingersoll (Nick Massi) via e-mail when he invited us to hang out by the stage door so that we’d be able to request autographs and possibly take some photos with the cast. I also e-mailed John Lloyd Young thanking him and the Broadway cast for their contribution to the theatrical arts. I actually have a “Jersey contract” (simple nod sufficed because CA is far from Broadway to shake hands) with JLY to contribute to the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids Benefit because he wrote a personalized note and sent an autographed photo to my sons. The check’s in the mail!!!!! Thanks John!

JBB: You’ve mentioned that your family is also enjoying Jersey Boys. What has been your family’s reaction to seeing the show?

Michael III: “Music was “great”, it’s the best musical I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen lots”!
Christopher: “Best musical I’ve seen and the cast was very good”!
Lydia: “Set design was excellent, the cast is highly talented and I especially enjoyed Deven May’s humor and talent.”
Mike, Sr.: “All around award winning musical that gave me goosebumps! I went through an entire range of emotions when watching Jersey Boys. Must see entertainment!”

JBB: What’s your favorite Jersey Boys scene?

Michael III, Mike Sr., Lydia, Christopher: “All together now…..” Drumroll please….. We all agree on the audience “background” stage scene where they performed “Dawn”. Goosebumps galore!!!!!

JBB: What about your favorite musical number in Jersey Boys?

Michael III: “Walk Like a Man”
Christopher: “Who Loves You”
Lydia: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”
Mike, Sr.: “Fallen Angel”

JBB: Do you have a favorite line from the show?

Mike, Sr./ Lydia: “Walk like a man….. As opposed to what, a woman?”
Christopher: “Is this f***** deja vu or what”????? (Tommy DeVito)
Michael III: “Maybe I’ll start my own group…..” (Nick Massi, various times during the play)

JBB: This past Saturday, Jersey Boys national tour cast members were making appearances around San Francisco and you went to Borders Books to see them. Please tell us about that.

MM: There were two advertised appearances with Jersey Boys cast members in SF on Saturday, 4/21. The first one was at the SF Hard Rock Cafe (12 PM) and at Borders Books (2 PM), a couple of blocks from the Curran Theatre. We got to the Borders Books at 12 pm in order to get a good seat. It was advertised as a Q&A with the “cast” and autograph signing session afterwards. The cast members that arrived were Jennifer Evans (Nat’l. Tour I Swing) & Rick Faugno (New Nat’l. Tour I Matinee “Frankie”). The crowd was SRO at the Q&A and we had expected that due to the popularity of Jersey Boys.

The questions were ranging from:

  • Do you really play the instruments onstage? (No – but the pit orchestra divided in two rooms below via close circuit camera, stage left keyboardist and perm. onstage drummer does.)
  • How is the Nat’l. Tour Splitting up? (SF Tour I is leaving 5/3 for LA, SF Tour II is completing Techs and Rehearsals in NY and will be here to replace Chris Jones’ cast. with Jarrod Spector leading as Frankie. Tour I will return to SF after the LA performances.)
  • Nerves anyone? (The nerves/butterflies never leave, even though we’ve gone through tons of performances/techs/rehearsals. Thankfully, we’ve never forgotten our lines but if we do, we are able to do some improv, especially during the minor SF Earthquake and Deven May – SF’s Tommy did a great job calming the crowd down with his expert improv skills.)
  • Accidents/replacement by swings? (Onstage accidents occur less frequently than offstage ones but swings have to jump into action at a seconds notice. In Jackie Seiden’s case, she had vocal problems the past four weeks, but due to Sandra DeNise’s leave of absence and timing of the arrival of the Broadway swing to replace her, she was a real trooper and performed anyway.)

After the Q&A, both Jennifer and Rick sang “Sherry” together, and the signing began. I brought my twin son Christopher up and my wife did the same with Michael III. They signed promotional Jersey Boys advertisement cards, as well as lobby poster cards. We got one poster card and a Jersey Boys songbook signed and personalized. While they signed for us, we chatted them up and thanked them for their “musical gift” to SF, asked who would be our cast on May 13th due to the moves to LA (we get the Nat’l Tour II cast) and thanked them for their benefit for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

All in all, it was a Saturday afternoon to remember! Very informative, we got to meet actual Broadway stars up close and a lot of fun, too!

JBB: How did you discover the music of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons?

MM: My first experience watching Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons was in the late or mid 70′s. My older sister had won tickets through the radio and we watched them in the SF Bay Area in person. Must have been the “newer” Four Seasons, as I’ve learned through the play in SF at the Curran Theatre.

Through the 70′s and 80′s I grew up in the Outer Mission district in SF where low-rider car clubs were formed and they listened to 50′s and 60′s standards such as “Sherry,” “Earth Angel,” “Fallen Angel,” “Dawn,” and other songs from that genre. That’s what got me hooked on that sound!

Maybe it was also the thought that they were part of the American entertainers that wanted to go against the British Invasion. They all stepped up their game and the hits they produced were proof that we had stood our ground. My wife grew up in that era of the “newer” Four Seasons as well, but my twin sons were exposed to 60′s and 70′s era music when acting or watching Jr. High/HS plays with similar storylines and themes. It pretty much grows on you after listening to it after a while.

JBB: Do you have a favorite Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons’ song?

Michael III: “Bye, Bye Baby”
Christopher: “Oh What a Night”
Lydia /Mike, Sr.: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”

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

MM: In closing we’d just like to say that we love the original and new Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons (RIP Nick Massi…..) groups, the National Touring I (Chris Jones as Frankie), National Touring II (Jarrod Spector as Frankie) and especially the La Jolla and Broadway casts that started what is now the successful Jersey Boys. “Oh What a Night”!!!!!

Once again, Jersey Boys Blog would like to thank Mike Magbaleta, his wife Lydia, and his sons Christopher and Michael III for sharing their thoughts and excitement about Jersey Boys and the Four Seasons! If you would like to be featured in a JBB Fantastic Fan Interview, feel free to contact us! Please click on the Contact Page and send us your contact information.

1 Comment »

  1. Mike, thank you for taking the time to post a comment to my interview with the mega-talented Craig Laurie. Good to know we’re both big fans of Craig–onstage and off.

    I read your FF interview when it was first posted and found it very wonderfully informative and touching. I especially enjoyed your synopsis of the Q & A session at Borders.

    Re the meeting of the cast members, I’ve heard that Jarrod and Melissa go out of their way to please their fans. In fact, I understand that Melissa greets each and every fan at the stage door, and is often the last to leave.

    As far as JLY, it’s remarkable that he takes the time to say or write thank you to everyone, and it serves to make his fans even more enthusiastic to support his wonderful causes and help such a down-to-earth talent achieve even more success. Years from now, we’ll hear about John Lloyd Young in this or that play, movie, or TV series, and sentimentally remember how gracious and humble he was to all of us at the start!!

    My best wishes go with you and your wonderful family, Mike. Thanks for an excellent piece.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — May 21, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Please leave a comment