July 7, 2009

Dominic Nolfi’s Journey as a Jersey Boy!

July 7th, 2009

Dominic Nolfi Broadway.com reports that nobody knows Jersey Boys better than Dominic Nolfi, who played three of the Four Seasons as an understudy before being tapped to replace Tony winner Christian Hoff in the leading role of Tommy DeVito. A native of San Francisco, Nolfi began studying voice in the youth program at San Francisco Conservatory, then earned a B.F.A. at Boston Conservatory. Since joining Jersey Boys as a swing during the show’s premiere run in La Jolla, he has performed on Broadway not only as tough guy Tommy but also as composer Bob Gaudio and lead singer Frankie Valli. How did he do it? Nolfi traces his fascinating Jersey journey for Broadway.com in the “First Person” feature. Here’s a sneak peek:

Almost four years ago, I was cast as a swing in the La Jolla premiere of Jersey Boys. The creative team realized how vocally demanding the role of Frankie Valli would be, and I went on in the part eight times before the show came to Broadway. Over the next two and a half years, I played three of the roles—Frankie, Bob Gaudio, and Tommy DeVito—before getting to own the role of Tommy. On a two-show day, I’ve gone on as one Season in the matinee and a different one in the evening! It’s been a unique experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

The key to being a successful understudy is compartmentalizing. When you know you’re going on, you run through the show in your head as the character you’ll be playing. Jersey Boys is especially challenging because there’s so much singing and so much dialogue between songs. You’re switching between direct address—speaking directly to the audience—and singing in very tight harmonies. The timing is also difficult, because a lot of the dialogue is spoken over the music. If you go too fast, the lines won’t land correctly.

But the challenges are also what make the show special. Jersey Boys is almost a play with music, and Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice’s smart, funny book is packed with great scenes and speeches. Rick was actually the first person who told me he felt my temperament was best suited to playing Tommy.

The three Seasons I’ve played couldn’t be more different. Bob Gaudio is the brains of the operation, calm and a lot different from the rest of the boys. He has a vision, and that’s the quality you’ve got to get across to the audience. Bob himself is around the theater a lot, and I think he enjoyed my performance, even though I’m not the archetype for that part. Bob should be less “Guido-looking” than me! I loved singing it, especially “Cry for Me,” which I think is one of the best moments in the show.

(Photo Credit: Joan Marcus)


  1. I had the pleasure of seeing Dominic as Bob Gaudio on my very first Jersey Boys experience…he was fantastic! As for Tommy DeVito, Christian Hoff was the man. He was made for that role and whoever was to replace him, would have some huge shoes to fill. After Christian left the show, I had the chance to see both Vegas and the National Tour. The shows were great, both Tommy actors adding a little different flavor than Christian. However, the real test would be Broadway. I had my chance to see Dominic in April play Tommy, only knowing him as Gaudio. I have to admit, I had my doubts…as there will never be another Christian Hoff. (It is always hard to see the Original Broadway Cast depart.) However, casting obviously knew what they were doing. Dominic is amazing and truly brings Tommy DeVito to life! Dominic Nolfi is a rare talent and the Jersey Boys team is very fortunate to have him on board. I can’t wait to go back and see him again and hopefully again…

    Comment by Carolyn — July 8, 2009 @ 6:26 am

  2. I saw Dominic last December and he was absolutely wonderful. I am seeing the show in NYC again in October and hope to see him again. The best thing was that I missed him at the Stage Door last year and sent him an e-mail. I immediately got a wonderful response. We all have our “faves” in the different parts and he replaced my “fave” as Tommy DeVito.

    Comment by Gladys — July 8, 2009 @ 6:39 am

  3. and Dominic….you do it all SUPERBLY!!!

    Comment by Zanna — July 8, 2009 @ 11:51 am

  4. Dominic is talented, versatile, and one of the reasons Jersey Boys just keeps going and going, like that bunny on TV. On top of that, he is a sweetheart and a gentleman!

    Comment by Pamela — July 8, 2009 @ 4:33 pm

  5. When I saw Dominic on New Year’s Eve, I walked away saying…”that guy gave 110% EVERY second that he was on stage.” And in the bitter temperatures that day, he gave the same at the stage door!

    Comment by Audrey — July 8, 2009 @ 7:57 pm

  6. I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Dom nearly two years ago when he was still a swing.


    We had such a great time before the show, with Dom being so funny and engaging. He joked about my being in the “age group” of his aunt who introduced him to the Four Seasons’ music (actually, I am several years her junior”!) and, when John Leone entered the dressing room perplexed that I was there, Dom noted,
    “John probably thinks you’re the new swing and, as assistant dance captain, wanted to give me time to train you.”

    I’m so happy for his success, and as Carolyn mentions above, he’s done an admirable job of succeeding Tony-winning Christian Hoff as Tommy. As Gladys and Pam note, he is both humble and gracious in e-mails and at the stage door. Besides, since our discussion, in response to his Dad’s comment, he has married the beautiful and talented Sonia Iannetti Nolfi.

    Comment by Howard Tucker — July 8, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

  7. Howard…I just read your interview with Dominic and loved it. Great work!

    Comment by Carolyn — July 9, 2009 @ 2:25 pm

  8. I’ve seen JB 7 times and Dominic as Tommy twice. I never had the pleasure of seeing Christian Hoff – but the snippets I’ve seen online let me know I really missed something – but Dominc was incredibly impressive, both acting and singing. Really very charismatic.

    Howard – as you seem to be so knowledgeable about theater, I wondered if you could share some insight into how/why decisions are made to change actors in the ensemble, i.e. now Sebastian Arcelus is returning to the Broadway cast; Jeremy Kushnier, a favorite of mine, moved in a short time period from Chicago, to LV, to Toronto, etc. Just curious as to how these changes come about.

    Comment by maxine — July 17, 2009 @ 12:50 am

  9. Jeremy went to Toronto because it was closer to home.

    Comment by Leanna — July 17, 2009 @ 9:01 am

  10. Had the great pleasure of seeing Jersey Boys at yesterday’s matinee. I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I especially enjoyed Dominic Nolfi’s performance as Tommy DeVito. Dominic’s performance was stellar. He’s a natural! His voice is incedible, but he has rhythm! Best of Luck, Dominic! You are a multi-talented young man. Hope to see you again and again in many venues.

    Comment by Barbara Coleman — July 20, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  11. Love Love Love Dominic as Tommy DeVito. Saw show on 7/7/09 in NYC and fell completely in love with him.
    Wonderful performance, which I could see it every night. Listening to soundtrack right now…..

    Comment by Denise — July 21, 2009 @ 8:59 am

  12. I saw Jersey Boys in April 2009 and can’t wait to get back there this spring. I grew up listening to this music with my parents and I am so in the moment when I hear these songs. I think I fell in love all over again when I saw Dominic play Tommy – he is a natural fit and hope plays that same role when I take my parents to see the play this year. WONDERFUL actors all around but Dominic drew me in. It won’t be the same experience if he is not playing that role that evening.

    Comment by Dena — December 23, 2009 @ 6:14 pm

  13. I saw jersey boys last Saturday and Dominic was terrific. He was made for that role. I can’t wait to see it again with him in it.

    Comment by susan — March 3, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  14. My sister, niece and I took my mother in to see the show in March 2010 as a birthday present for her. WOW!!! We all loved it!! My mother said that was the best birthday present she ever received in her 78 years!! She was actually crying when it ended!! I am looking forward to going again this summer – that’s how much I loved the show! I can’t say enough about all the actors, but my favorite is Dominic Nolfi as Tommy – what a true talent!! Way to go Dominic!! I’ll see you soon!! Please make a DVD of the Broadway Play!!! I’ll buy at least 4 copies!!

    Comment by Susan — May 23, 2010 @ 6:43 pm

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