May 13, 2010

Jersey Boys Fantastic Fan Tina Ryan Celebrates 118 Shows!

May 13th, 2010

JERSEY BOYS Fantastic Fans who have seen the show 100 times are getting to be–to quote Tommy DeVito–ubiquitous! First it was Kathy Johnstone, who has seen the show all over the US, then Frances Fong-Lee, who has seen it, well–everywhere. This week, we’re excited to present an interview with Tina Ryan, who has seen JERSEY BOYS–as of this week–118 TIMES! Tina shares how she became interested in JB, her love of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, some of her most memorable moments, and what keeps bringing her back!

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

Tina Ryan: I first heard about JB when it opened at La Jolla Playhouse with David Norona as Frankie. It was big news at the time, amongst the fans of Frankie Valli / 4 Seasons, as there had been rumors circulating for some time that something big and exciting was coming. It then of course moved to the August Wilson, with Tony Award winning cast, John Lloyd Young / Daniel Reichard / Christian Hoff & J. Robert Spencer. Initially, I had absolutely no interest in seeing this…. Yes, you read that right…

JBB: That really surprises me! Considering you are such a big Four Seasons fan, why were you not so interested in seeing Jersey Boys at first?

TR: I think the major reason I didn’t want to see the show, is that I didn’t feel anyone could do justice to the legend that is Frankie Valli, with his amazing vocal range, and really, just his whole demeanour, he is such a hard act to follow.

Also, I don’t see the 4 Seasons as “dancers” which made the idea of a Broadway / West End show with dancers faintly absurd…..

As you can tell ……. They sure changed my mind!

JBB: What was your reaction to the show upon seeing it for the first time and what keeps bringing you back?

TR: On first seeing the show, I thought…. Actually, I am not sure what I thought. I wasn’t in the frame of mind of wanting to see it, but fellow 4 Seasons fans persuaded me to give it a chance. I enjoyed the show, and learned a bit more about the band, though I did know some of the back story already, I was more interested in hearing the guys sing, and they were fabulous!

My first foray back to see the show was a lucky break, being in the right place at the right time, and having some great friends. Charles Alexander, who wrote the foreword in the Jersey Boys coffee table book, very kindly asked me to step up to the plate, and accompany him to the Press Night / Opening Night, as his guest, as his wife was unable to join him. We had great seats, and then attended the after show party at The Natural History Museum. Meeting Bob Gaudio and (to quote Gaudio from the show) his “beautiful wife” Judy Parker. I was very awestruck to say the least. I have met Frankie Valli on a number of occasions, and while it is always an enjoyable experience, I don’t turn into a shy goldfish around him now. So it was a quick photo on the red carpet with him, and my long time friend, and co-founder of The Four Seasons Appreciation Society, Lynn Boleyn, a quick chat and then off to mingle.

My third visit was for my birthday in August 2008, again with my dear friend Lynn. Also, the first time I sat in front row of the stalls. This was also the first time I had not seen all 4 of the leads, seeing Mark Isherwood as Tommy, as Glenn Carter was absent that day. Again it was for the music, if we cannot have Frankie touring, we can at least have 4 very talented actors and singers (and of course, the full company) doing justice to the songs we love.

It wasn’t until March 2009 that I started attending on such a regular basis, after meeting friends online who loved the show, and we attended together.

JBB: You’ve seen JB 111 times, right?! You must have some fabulous stories to share! What are some of your most memorable experiences?

TR: It is now 114 shows, and 4 booked for next week….

Memorable experiences!? Wow! There are so many…. If I had to pick one, I would go with the very fast thinking and professional Ryan Molloy…

When he finishes performing Working My Way Back To You, he launches straight into the “Summers in Jersey” speech, not usually giving the audience time to show their appreciation for the previous song, especially as it is going into such a solemn moment…..

However, on this occasion, the audience cheered over him, throwing him completely off kilter, and he had to stop and receive the ovation.

Now, for someone who has either, never seen the show, or maybe I should say, not seen it as much as we had, they wouldn’t have noticed….

“Summers in Jersey, you get a string of days that are so thick and humid; you can hardly breathe…..” Turned into “Summers in Jersey…. And something about the light of God shining down”, I can’t actually remember, but he reeled it off the top off his head, for the required length of the speech, and also re-wrote the first two lines of Fallen Angel…. Without missing a beat! I was in absolute awe of him. What a professional!

JBB: In what cities have you seen Jersey Boys thus far?

TR: I have seen the show once in NYC, with Jarrod Spector as Frankie, and the rest have been in London.

JBB: Why do you think people have such a strong connection to Jersey Boys?

TR: It’s the unknown, isn’t it? The untold story… and the music, many people here in the UK know the music, but don’t necessarily attribute it to The 4 Seasons. Especially as some of their biggest songs were covered by other artists in this country, and were big hits for them. Example, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, is known in this country as an Andy Williams hit.

JBB: So, you’ve met original Four Seasons Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio; have you gotten to meet the West End Jersey Boys cast members?

TR: I have met all of the current cast, and the cast before them (they changed on March 14th this year).

JBB: What is your favorite JB scene and why?

KR: I have a number of favorite scenes from the show, from the top of my head, the scene in the Pizza Parlor where Frankie takes Mary Delgado in the show for their first date. Mary’s wit and sarcasm is hysterical.

I also love when Joey Pesci introduces Gaudio to the others, especially when Joey is played to perfection by Jye Frasca.

JBB: How about your favorite musical number in JB and why?

KR: It gives me goosebumps to hear the “big 3.” When they break into Sherry, you see the audience come alive….. they know this song!

I however, love the original stuff from the 50’s …. Silhouettes, Apple Of My Eye, etc.

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

KR: “Noooo V A L L I”, “How come?” … “Because Y is a bullshit letter… it doesn’t know what it is… is it a vowel? is it a consonant?” …. “I’ve never thought about it!”

“Plus which, you’re Italian…. You gotta end in a vowel! …. Delgad-O! Castellicci-O! Pizz-A! Valli…. With an I! it says….this, is who I am, you don’t like it, you can go f*ck yourself”

JBB: Prior to seeing Jersey Boys, you were already a Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons fan. How did you become interested in the group? Do you have a favorite Seasons and/or Valli song? Have you seen Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons in concert?

KR: Absolutely!! I have been a huge fan of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons since I was 14 (I’m now 32), since they released their 30th Anniversary concert which they recorded in Atlantic City in 1992. But I knew some of the songs before that, it was the music I was brought up on, classic 60’s fare.

I have seen Frankie Valli perform three times now, once in 1993 here in the UK, and twice in America. The first, in Williamsport, PA and then at The Mohegan Sun in Connecticut the very next day. My friend Kay drove with a bit of a lead foot, to make the journey in four hours.

As for a favorite song, there are so many to choose from. I am more a fan of Valli’s solo work, my favorite from that?… it has to be Lucia, from the album “Valli”. Recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra.

With the 4 Seasons… I’m going to go with …. Wow… ummm… Rag Doll, though … I prefer this sung live.

JBB: Anything else you would like to share about your favorite show?

KR: You asked what keeps pulling me back… I have to say, it really is the next best thing to seeing Frankie live, the music, the story, flaws and all, it’s all just epic!

The camaraderie on stage, the connection with the cast, when we see them at stage door, especially the adorable Simon Adkins (Crewe), who has been there from the start, getting to know the new cast members, they are all just such lovely people, and a joy to talk to.

But also, I go a lot to see the understudies, as much as I adore the cast we have. When, for example, Stephen Ashfield is on holiday, it is lovely to see the very sweet & humble James Winter play Bobby, and prior to cast change, the amazing Kieran Jae blew me away with his portrayal of the humble and quietly spoken Gaudio.

Jye Frasca (first understudy), is to me, by far and wide, the best Valli! I will specifically book to see him.

I am also looking forward, with huge anticipation, to see Joseph Prouse, who normally plays Norm Waxman, play Nicky Massi.

I have also made many good friends through this show, girls who adore it as much as I do! It’s great just to meet up, have a laugh, see a fantastic show, and thank the guys and girls for yet another 2 hours & 10 minutes of pure entertainment!


  1. What a fun interview with Tina! This show never gets old–about to see it for my 4th time on Broadway next week!

    Comment by Michelle — May 13, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

  2. Slight change to report in the number of times Tina has seen Jersey Boys–tonight will mark her 122nd time!

    Comment by Susie — May 13, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  3. Congratulations, Tina! I love reading “Fantastic Fan” interviews and it’s so fun to find out what keeps bringing fans back to JB.

    Comment by Terri — May 13, 2010 @ 6:23 pm

  4. Well done, Tina! Nice to know that there are other die hard fans on the other side of the pond. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Gary — May 13, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

  5. “Initially, I had absolutely no interest in seeing this…. I didn’t feel anyone could do justice to the legend…”

    Tina, being a huge Four Seasons fan from ’62 forward, I felt exactly the same way. Friends had to really twist my arm to see the show the first time. And now of course, it’s me doing the twisting. And the occasional mashed potato and wah-watusi.

    Great to read your story!

    Comment by stubbleyou — May 14, 2010 @ 1:13 am

  6. Congratulations on #118! Next week will be my 41st & 42nd shows in Las Vegas but have been fortunate to watch five different (Broadway, 1st Nat’l Tour, 2nd Nat’l Tour/SF/Chicago cast, special pre Las Vegas limited holiday engagement in SF and Las Vegas) Jersey Boys productions in seven venues. As a fellow fantastic fan, I’m not worried about the production going away so I have time to catch up to you and Kathy Johnstone!

    Comment by Mike B. Magbaleta — May 14, 2010 @ 10:38 am

  7. Great interview Tina :) Really looking forward to seeing the show for my first time!

    Comment by Harriet — May 14, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  8. Congratulations Tina–122 shows! Bravo!

    Comment by Chiara — May 14, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

  9. Hi Tina! It seems like you really enjoy the show. I would love to talk to you! E-mail me at [email protected]!

    Comment by Alyssa Tagios — June 4, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

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