June 17, 2013

Jersey Boys: A Love Story

June 17th, 2013

By Pamela Singer, Jersey Boys Blog Special Correspondent

Gather round friends, and listen to a true life fairy tale of romance and intrigue that could only happen in Jersey. Okay, so we’re not talking about the literal Jersey here, but the Jersey Boys land we’ve all come to inhabit and love. Everyone knows that magic happens eight times a week at the August Wilson Theatre, home to Broadway’s phenomenal Jersey Boys. On Sunday, May 26th, that magic was taken to a whole other level, when John “JT” Thomson, Jersey Boys Stagehand Extraordinaire, proposed to uber Jersey Boys Fan and friend, Wanda Libardi, at the matinee performance. You read that right folks. It was AT the matinee, not before or after, but during the show! You ask four guys how it happened, you get four different stories. This intrepid reporter and dear friend to both JT and Wanda was there to witness this special event, and is here to tell all.

Let’s begin at the beginning. La Jolla, California,2004. Our beautiful heroine is on vacation in San Diego. A little musical called Jersey Boys is playing at the La Jolla Playhouse. A longtime Four Seasons fan and actress herself, Wanda sees the show, and falls in love with Jersey Boys, not to be confused with falling in love with her own Jersey boy, which happens later. Back at her hotel, Wanda runs into the fabulous and fearless Jennifer Naimo, who originates the character of Mary Delgado. They talk, realize they know one another from cabaret shows in Williamstown, Massachusetts, and the seeds of a lasting friendship between them are planted. Jen tells Wanda the show may go to Broadway, and Wanda assures her she will be there if it does.

Flash forward to 2005. The show is taking Broadway by storm. Jen is the only female cast member to come to the Great White Way from the La Jolla production. As promised, Wanda comes down to NYC from her home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to see the show. She and Jennifer become fast friends. Soon, Wanda is spending as much time at the August Wilson as she is in her own home. Her joyous spirit and infectious personality quickly charm the cast and crew, and she is soon part of the Jersey Boy family.I have the great good fortune of meeting Wanda at Jen’s first cabaret, and we become fast friends, too.

Meanwhile, our erstwhile hero, JT, is backstage at the August Wilson, making sure the scenery and props are in working order and running smoothly at every performance. Born and bred in New Jersey, he enthralls everyone he meets with his warmth and humor . A real jack of all trades, JT can do everything Jersey Boys-related except, well, sing “My Mother’s Eyes” for Gyp DeCarlo! JT has worked at the August Wilson theatre for 25 years, but no one could have predicted the phenomena of Jersey Boys. Behind the scenes, the cast and crew are bonding, not only with each other, but with the fans as well. JT and Wanda meet briefly at the stage door, but don’t really get to know one another at that time.

Flash forward again to 2007. Daniel Reichard , Broadway’s original Bob Gaudio, is leaving the show. His going away party is at Cafe Cielo. Wanda attends the party with Jennifer, who introduces her again to JT. While Wanda and JT are talking, Jen is at the bar chatting with cast members. Jen then turns around, and in her inimitable way, looks at Wanda and JT and says “We think you two should go out.” Now, when Mary (“Y is a bullshit letter”) Delgado tells you to do something, you do it! A date is set up for dinner, and the rest, as they say, is history. Sometimes it just clicks with people. As JT recalls ‘”I fell in love with her on our first date.” It took Wanda a little longer to succumb to JT’s charms, ”We became very, very good friends and everything else just fell into place naturally.”

Six years ensue, with lots of trips between the Berkshires and NYC taking place. Rails and roads become second nature to our storied couple. Lives, friends, families and even their dogs become entwined! Hard to believe, but in all that time, JT and Wanda had never seen Jersey Boys Broadway together. Not until May 26, 2013, that is. A seemingly routine Sunday matinee, then suddenly, the whole world exploded.

May 26, 20013, a beautiful Sunday in the midst of a holiday weekend. Wanda and JT arrive at the August Wilson for the matinee, she looking gorgeous in a raspberry colored lace dress, he looking handsome in a dark suit. They take their seats in the orchestra, 4th row center. The show enfolds as always: mesmerizing, enthralling and just plain fabulous. I get there as John Lloyd Young , in great voice, is crooning “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and think, ‘How very apt. Is that style or what?!’ And is it me, or does the cast seem even more exuberant than usual?? Probably just my own excitement taking over. The usher is kind enough to find me a seat in the 7th row,the flowers from Jen and me still intact. “Who Loves You” wafts through the theatre. Fittingly, Mary Delgado (Renee Marino) takes the mic and announces a special crew member and his girlfriend are in the audience today. She asks JT how he liked the show. Suddenly, a spotlight falls on JT and Wanda, and a mic is put in his hand. JT stands up and says, “The show was amazing, really amazing, and it’s such a pleasure and honor to work with the cast and crew backstage.”

Pause, and then he continues. “That’s not really why I asked you all here today.” (laughter) He takes Wanda’s hand and continues, “We met through Jersey Boys, Mary Delgado fixed us up, Gyp DeCarlo suggested a restaurant for our first date, and Frankie Valli sang songs for us to fall in love by.”( I’m tearin’ up here already!) He gets down on one knee in the aisle. “Wanda, will you marry me?” A collective gasp goes through the audience. Wanda is so overcome with emotion and can only nod her affirmative answer. The cast throws kisses from the stage, and a few moments go by. “Oh What A Night” closes the show.

Friends, I could go on and on and tell you about the good wishes and congratulations from 1100 strangers and friends in the audience, the meticulous six-month planning on JT’s part that everyone was in on, the backstage champagne toast afterwards by the cast and crew, the gorgeous ring, or the way I felt running through the seats to fling my arms around these two wonderful people in a congratulatory hug. But in the end, these are all extraneous. This is after all, a love story about two people who fell in love in Jersey Boys land, and that’s what matters. To quote the great Frankie Valli “Family is everything.” Let’s keep on chasing the music, and trying to get home.


  1. What a wonderful story, Pam!!

    Congratulations to Wanda and JT!

    So Happy for you :-)

    Love is Everything!


    Comment by Jody Cardillo — June 17, 2013 @ 10:17 am

  2. What a beautiful, romantic story! Wanda and JT, I am so excited for you both…congratulations once again! Pam, wonderfully written!

    Comment by Carolyn — June 17, 2013 @ 12:39 pm

  3. Pamela, as always, what a beautifully written story. I was there from the start and knew these two wonderful people all along and even I didn’t know all the details. One thing I did know, though…when either Mary Delgado or Jennifer Naimo tells one to do something, one does it or else!!

    I’ve been fortunate to share several birthday celebrations with Wanda (we’re one day apart as Aquarians and share many traits, but alas, not our metabolisms)and have seen her in live theatre (I’m still upset at her Tony snubs), and have seen JT so many times at the theatre and couldn’t be happier for them, and wish both of them a lifetime of happiness.

    Now, Pamela, when do you plan to sell the story? Are you going to give Clint competition for the Oscars next year? May I give you my suggestions for casting: Jennifer Lawrence and Seth MacFarlane for Wanda and JT; the public will demand Kristin Chenowith for the Jen Naimo character; and I’m torn between Melissa Rivers (Joan needs to be banned from the set) and Giulianna Rancic for you as the investigative reporter. Finally, perhaps Meryl Streep as the Susie Skarl “devil wears prada”-type editor….how about it??

    Seriously, this makes me so happy!! Another Jersey Boys success story…it doesn’t all happen on stage!! Thanks Pam.

    Comment by Howard — June 17, 2013 @ 1:12 pm

  4. Thanks for sharing the “behind the scenes” details, Pam. I always love that part of the theatre world! This story certainly made me reminisce a bit because it was at Jennifer’s first cabaret that I met so many Jersey Boys fans and from that have found true lasting friendships. I have been happily married to my own John ThomPson for almost 30 years…I wish the same happiness for Wanda and her JT :)

    Comment by Lulu Thompson — June 17, 2013 @ 8:51 pm

  5. This wonderful story couldn’t have happened to two nicer people. All the best to you, Wanda and JT! Well told, Pam!

    Comment by Charles Alexander — June 18, 2013 @ 8:10 am

  6. Pam writes the greatest stories – and this one, six years in the making, is one that so many of us backstage have taken a very keen interest in. Sure, it’s fun looking in on a couple of people falling in love, but these two, Wanda and JT – well, we got to know them individually, and like each of them so much, that their official coupledom is that rare delight… the sort of happy ending that the cynics teach us never to expect in real life. Thanks, Pam – for bringing it all back with such love.

    Comment by Rick Elice — June 18, 2013 @ 9:06 am

  7. Thank you all for the lovely words. They are so appreciated!It was a pleasure and a real labor of love to write this article. One of the many amazing things to come out of Jersey Boys, is the friendships so many of us have formed, and now, an engagement. As Frankie says in the show ‘family is everything’.I am truly blessed and fortunate to be part of the Jersey Boys family!

    Comment by Pamela — June 18, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

  8. What a beautifully written story! I almost feel like I was there. Congratulations to a very special couple and a very special Jersey Boys family!

    Comment by Jana — June 18, 2013 @ 8:55 pm

  9. What a fantastic love story! A great tribute to the loving couple, the power of Jersey Boys and the magic of music. Thanks to the rapporteur for bringing it to us.

    Comment by Larry — June 18, 2013 @ 9:05 pm

  10. What a beautifully written story. I almost feel as if I was there! Congratulations to a very special couple and a very special Jersey Boys family!

    Comment by Jana — June 18, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

  11. Great story line and writing! Jen can be very much ‘to the point.’ I remember when, early in my JB journey, she was pondering viewer recidivism. So she asked me, “Are you rich?” I certainly wasn’t, but warm-hearted stories like this make me feel pretty rich.

    Not only is this a sweet love story, but Pam, you wove in several tidbits I never knew. I didn’t know Jen was the only female cast member from La Jolla and that JT had been at the August Wilson before JB.

    Pam, I trust you’ll be covering the wedding and honeymoon. Belleville is lovely in the Spring!

    Comment by Audrey — June 18, 2013 @ 11:15 pm

  12. Congratulations Wanda and JT!! Such a wonderful story!! And thanks Pam for bringing it to life for us!!

    Comment by Sharon — June 19, 2013 @ 9:23 am

  13. Love means never having to say “Go f*** yourself. ”
    A beautiful story, beautifully written.
    Congratulations to the happy couple!

    Comment by Stubbleyou — June 20, 2013 @ 6:53 am

  14. Thank You Pam, for writing this story, thank you Rick and Marshall, for writing Jersey Boys, and thank you Jen, for insisting that Wanda and I should go out.If you think this is a good story, you should see it from inside my eyes. Lets put aside the fact that I work backstage on the best show on Broadway with great music, great writing, great acting and great singing. We all have a lot of fun backstage. And its the first steady job I have had in my life. (and I,m an old coot)I have made many lasting friendships with so many people. Just an amazing 8 years. But the biggest thing of all was that my dream came true. Thank you all for an incredible trip, that i feel has just started. love to all, JT

    Comment by JT — June 20, 2013 @ 9:01 am

  15. Congratulations Wanda and JT! That is just the best news. Wishing you both all the happiness in the world. I wonder who else Jen Naimo sees hooking up in that crystal ball of hers! Of course, Pam kicks another great story out of the park. Great to hear Renee Marino is back in the show. Love that girl!

    Comment by Gary — June 28, 2013 @ 2:41 am

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