February 12, 2010

Jersey Boys: Behind the Scenes with The Four Seasons!

February 12th, 2010

Jersey Boys LogoCharles Runnels has a preview of the JERSEY BOYS national tour, which will be running at Mann Hall in Fort Myers beginning Wednesday February 17 through March 7.

Runnels talks to JERSEY BOYS writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, in addition to cast members Joseph Leo Bwarie (Frankie Valli) and Steve Gouveia (Nick Massi) about the show, The Four Seasons, and more!

They seemed the least likely guys to bring The Four Seasons to Broadway. Ad man Rick Elice knew practically nothing about the ’60s pop band. Screenwriter Marshall Brickman knew even less.

“I called up Marshall,” Elice says, “and I said, ‘What do you think about a musical about the Four Seasons?’

“And he said, ‘I love Vivaldi!’”

“That’s how perfectly suited we were for this,” he says.

And yet, somehow, it all worked. Elice and Brickman wrote a megahit.

“Jersey Boys” opened to critical raves in 2005 and quickly started packing the house at Broadway’s August Wilson Theatre. Then it won four 2006 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Actor Joseph Leo Bwarie — who plays Valli in the show — says he was equally entranced by the drama in JERSEY BOYS.

“It’s ‘VH-1: Behind the Music’ — live onstage,” Bwarie says. “You know so many of the songs. But what you don’t know is the story.”

It’s certainly not an easy role. Bwarie says he’s always been able to sing falsetto and hit a four-octave range — but not for 27 songs a show, eight shows a week.

“I’m on stage for all but 8 1⁄2 minutes of the show,” says Bwarie (who, by the way, is Lebanese — not Italian). “I sing 27 songs. And in between the songs, I’m talking to people or shouting at people — depending on the mood.

“It’s exhausting. I’m not gonna lie.”

Actor Steve Gouveia is right there beside Bwarie every night, strumming the bass as late Four Seasons member Nick Massi.

Gouveia has been with “Jersey Boys” since he played guitar in the house band at California’s La Jolla Playhouse. After the show left for Broadway, he understudied for the Massi role — and watched with amazement as the audiences got bigger and bigger and the box-office lines started extending around the block.

“I looked outside,” he says, “and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really cool.’”

Gouveia still remembers the night Valli and Gaudio came to see the show.

“We were all so nervous because we knew they were there,” he says. “We were doing their show for them. And a lot of it isn’t pretty. There are fight scenes, and there are sad scenes.”

Read the full story on News-Press.com.

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